Shabby Chic

My inspiration comes from my stash. And when I was looking for some textured yarn without leaving the comfort of my home weaving studio, I found this.

eyelash yarn - not recommended for use as warp yarn

My thought was to use a little of this as accent yarn in the warp with 10/2 perle cotton. Of course, this was a mistake.  The hairy characteristics of this “eyelash” yarn made the weaving process a slow and painstaking task which is not ordinarily the case with my weaving projects.  And to add insult to injury,  I was only a few inches short of the end of the scarf, when I ran out of the bamboo yarn I was using as weft.  Luckily, I had a new full cone of the same color, but having ordered the yarns on two separate occasions, of course the dye lots were different.  Yes, even with a bleached white yarn, this makes a difference.

My solution was to dip the finished scarf in a bath of green tea to give it an “antiqued” look and so masking the different shades of white. After the usual finishing of a quick soak and swirl in mild detergent and spin drying in the washing machine, I gave it a go. I added 20 green tea bags to boiling water in a large  stew pot.  I let the tea simmer and steep until the water was moderately warm, then removed the tea bags.  I placed the still wet scarf in the pot and moved it around a bit, then let it sit overnight. Didn’t fret over it.  Had a nice cocktail before bed and slept like a baby.

I was just expecting a softened creamy color, not a harsh brown so I hadn’t added any salt to the tea. (My understanding is that the addition of salt before dyeing would break down the fibers a bit and thus allow the fabric to more readily accept the dye.) And a soft creamy color is what I got the next morning.  After emptying the tea water, I rinsed the scarf   a few times until the water was clear.  In the last rinse, I added a bit of white vinegar and a couple of drops of mild dishwashing liquid.  The vinegar to set the color and the soap to remove any telltale vinegar odor. One more round in the washing machine’s spin cycle and the scarf  looked great as it hung to dry.

The finished scarf looks like a hot little  “shabby chic” number – an accessory for an “urban distressed” outfit.

Green tea dyed handwoven eyelash scarf

And, yes, the green tea dye completely covered any discrepancy in shades of the white bamboo yarn.  Success!