Friday, February 02, 2018

Oxyclean to the Rescue!

Over the past week, I have been arguing with my dyepot and its contents, in an effort to get the pale neutrals that Kelsey would like for her baby blanket. The problem is that I started with natural cotton: that is, both unbleached and undyed. In its natural state, cotton is NOT white. To end up with pale grey on beige yarn is nigh unto impossible. No matter what I tried, it turned to various shades of brown, the one color Kelsey was very vocal about not wanting on the blanket.

After googling for a bit, and reading about several methods of making cotton white(er), I decided to try Oxyclean. The problem with Clorox or other forms of bleach, is that it is imperative to neutralize the yarn after bleaching, or the bleach continues to work and will eventually damage the yarn. Plus, the amount of hydrogen peroxide I would need to neutralize that quantity of yarn was intimidating.

The best non-chorine-based recommendation I found was Oxyclean. "Soak the cotton in it overnight, or as long as it takes to get as white as you want." I duly dissolved several scoops of Oxyclean in warm water a giant stainless steel dyepot, and added the skeins of yarn that I wanted to whiten. The next day, I was shouting with delight, "It works!"

Then, as I rinsed and dried those skeins, I made a hilarious discovery. I always label skeins with a strip of waterproof adhesive tape fastened to one of the skein ties, with a brief description written in black permanent marker of what that skein's purpose is. When I realized that Oxyclean considers the marker to be a stain that must be removed, I couldn't stop laughing. Each skein was labeled with a nice bit of tape with all writing cleaned off. I had to wait for the skeins to dry, then weigh them to find out who they were.

In the next dye run, though, I was able to get a lovely pale grey from my dyepot. Hooray!

Why did I never discover this method until now?


Mary said...

I just took a class with Michael Cook, the silk reeling guru, and he has us boil the silk to remove the gum from it. He has found that there is a "Sharpie Industrial" which he buys at big box like Loews and that will not be removed in the process. Regular Sharpie will. I understand that we did not use Oxyclean, still it may help.

Liz aka Fibergeek said...

Thanks for the information about whitening natural cotton with Oxyclean. I will definitely be using this information.

Peg Cherre said...

Oooooo...Oxyclean here I come! (I've labelled warps with various colors/weights of yarn, writing down my 'code' on an index card, so that after dyeing I know what is what. Just a thought for the future...)

Sandra Rude said...

Good idea, Pegg!

neki desu said...

need to find an european equivalent.
wonder if it will work removing the sericin from overtwisted silk and help in softening it.