ISO: fabric softener

Yes, blocking my dear Fir Cone scarf did a number on my hands, my bathtub, and my quilt. I knew the yarn would bleed, but I was not expecting fruit punch consistency wash after wash after wash. At one point I tossed some Synthrapol in there, which did nothing. After hours and hours of rinsing, I’m certain there is still loose dye in the fabric. Maybe it will rub off on my neck and my clothes – I don’t know.

And, please, do not worry about my stained quilt. This is my dedicated blocking surface (evidence: here, here, here, here, etc.), and believe me when I say, this is a promotion. At one point this (thirty dollar at Bed Bath and Beyond) quilt covered my college apartment couch and everything else that implies. Serving as a blocking quilt is ultimately better for its ego. I’ll spritz it with some stuff before its next laundering, but I won’t obsess over these pink stains because they perfectly match the brown “mystery” stains on the other side :).

And the scarf? It’s quite lovely.

Pattern: Scarf with fir cone lace border from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby (review/preview here).

Needles: Addi Lace circular needles, 2.50 mm (approximately US 1.5). While wonderful in many ways, I wish they were as slippery as the originals. There, I said it.

Yarn: Schaefer Andrea in Clara Barton, 100% silk, about 800 yards (3/4 of a single 1093 yard skein).

Finished dimensions: approximately 10.25″ wide and 83″ long.

Well, it’s certainly a gorgeous pattern. Those googly mooglies of the highest caliber are a fantastic three-dimensional detail, and the main part of the pattern is light, airy, and easy to knit.

However, I think my yarn choice brings the beauty of this project down a notch. After bleeding like all hell, I feel the silk has lost much of its former luster and sheen. It’s very stiff now, like thin tissue paper in desperate need of fabric softener. Considering the buckets of fruit punch-like water that I washed down the drain, it’s not surprising that the color of the scarf is duller compared to the skein. The brilliant crimson that first attracted me to this yarn is now a washed-out magenta.

Disregard the pasty whiteness of my skin: the colors of the skein and the scarf are accurate.

Perhaps with some time I’ll see the pattern past the yarn – it IS gorgeous. Perhaps with some time the yarn will soften up and become more malleable. But certainly when considering silks, I’ll look at others before Andrea.


70 thoughts on “ISO: fabric softener

  1. Peggy

    That is really gorgeous. Bummer about the bleeding though. I am a newly converted “lace” knitter. Not more than 3 months ago I made a proclamation that I cared nothing for knitting lace. Welp, I out the door in a bit to get that book!!!! I did gasp when I saw your, let’s see what can we call it…..your loved quilt, or your love quilt. Not implying anything. 🙂

  2. Ang

    I’m so glad the quilt wasn’t an heirloom, but I didn’t think you would block on a much loved quilt anyway! I am very disappointed in the lack of color-fastness with the yarn, that is rather shameful. I wonder if they are aware of the issue?

  3. June

    The color bleeding is unfortunate but, sadly, also not unexpected – magenta and related shades are difficult to exhaust. You might want to gently simmer it in an ss or enamel pot with vinegar, salt, and a giant hank of loosely tied superwash wool.

  4. Suna

    June, thank you for the suggestion. I will pass it on to friends who have this same yarn. Perhaps we can prevent a repeat of Grumperina’s experience!

  5. anne

    I’d also suggest neutralising the Synthrapol with a vinegar rinse. Soak it in cold water with some white vinegar for an hour or so. The smell will disappear with time and the acidity should restore some of the hand and lustre of the silk.

  6. Susan

    Yeah, I second the steam iron suggestion – it will make all the difference. Washed silk really needs it. You will be astounded. Also you can’t hurt it by steaming it (except of course the colors might bleed some more!)

  7. Kathy

    Your scarf is amazing. It reminds me of stained glass cathedral windows, but of course in one color. I’ve been checking out silk blocking methods in the off chance that I ever do finish my wedding shawl.

    Lovely, lovely job!

  8. Susan

    Just another comment – I think most silk yarns bleed – I don’t think that is unusual or a fault of this particular yarn. They probably all should be rinsed and dried (and steamed) before using. Either that or don’t wet them at all. Some yarns actually recommend dry clean only for that purpose.

  9. terhi

    Well, it’s simply gorgeous. I’m so sorry to hear your had trouble with bleeding, but nevertheless, it’s a beautiful scarf and you should wear it proudly! (But not with white jacket, I guess.)

  10. Ühltje

    Oh dear. I am starting to get just a little jealous of you. And the childish reason is, that you are knitting every shawl, I want to knit, and so much faster and prettier. Congrats though.

  11. Donna

    Ah, I had heard about Schaefer bleeding before – it’s disappointing, even if the scarf remains lovely in its own way.

  12. Tasha

    The scarf is beautiful – I wasn’t sure when I saw it in the book, but after seeing yours, it’s now on the roster to be a possible future project.

    I’m glad your loss of colour wasn’t worse; a lady on MS3 wrote about her exact same experience with that colourway, and I was worried for you! Glad you ended up with magenta, and not the coral that I believe she finally got…

  13. susan

    Schaefer yarns are notorious for bleeding. I suppose you could try soaking the scarf in some water+citric acid to try and set the dye a bit more.

  14. Sarah

    I’m so sorry about all the bleeding (and resulting fading) issues, but the scarf is tremendous. Those nupps! My hands hurt just looking at them!

  15. May

    You’re the second person whom I’ve heard from that The Schaefer red silk has bleed like crazy. I’m now definitely weary of spending that much money on it.

    In the meantime, your new scarf is beautiful and I’m looking at the pattern differently after seeing your finished product. Congrats on the finish.

  16. Carrie

    I suppose you could overdye it with a different red and hope it doesn’t bleed. It’s still a lovely scarf.

    I’m with you on the Addi Lace needles. Love the points, but the surface almost makes my skin crawl sometimes.

  17. Beth S.

    I don’t know how you do it, but the patterns which I have flipped right past in that book always turn out to be absolutely stunning in your hands! The Melon Shawl, the dolphin lace scarf, and now this one… honestly, they should have hired you to do the knitting for the book. I like your versions SO much better than the ones that made it into print!

  18. Romi

    How disappointing that the yarn bled so much of its color away. But the color is still very very lovely and I’ll bet the scarf will soften with wear. It looks beautiful!

  19. Joy

    Thanks for the warning on the yarn. I’ve been contemplating this scarf pattern myself – think I’ll use my handspun silk. That way, if the (subtle) colours bleed, I’ll have nobody but myself to blame! I would be so annoyed if this were my project. Like you, I love the crimson colour but am so so on the magenta you ended up with. I think, if it were me, I’d overdye it with a weak orangey dyebath to try to perk it up again.

  20. Yarnartist

    what an amazing, gorgeous piece of work! The color looks beautiful, when compared to no previous conception. You have every right to be proud of yourself!

  21. Michelle

    Great comments, beautiful scarf. I would be bummed out, too, if the color bled that much, because I really loved that deep crimson color. Nevertheless, it is lovely.

  22. Joy

    Oh, and I happen to adore the Addi lace needles just as they are. The one thing about them that makes them rock is the slight grippiness of the finish compared to the original turbos or knit picks options. Slippery needles + slippery yarn = hand cramps for me.

  23. marycatharine

    The scarf is beautiful but it is a total downer that the yarn bled to much. I have no words of wisdom when it comes to bleeding yarn and can only say in a tone of voice that reminds me of my mother – it’s so pretty maybe the color will grow on you.

  24. Amy

    The scarf *is* just beautiful, but I admit to some disappointment on your behalf when I saw the finished color. The in-progress shots were *so* rich and luscious.

    There’s nothing you can do to get the color back, but I’ll repeat what others have said about the steaming–it brought back the wonderful feel of the Shoalwater I made with the Andrea.

    I’d say maybe stash the scarf away carefully, and bring it out in a few months? Perhaps that will help you fall in love with the new color?

  25. Kimberly

    Silk is a protein fiber like wool. I use regular old pantene hair conditioner in the next to last rinse on all my silk scarves and yarns. It works miracles in putting back the softness and luster. It makes all of my expensive silk hand washable.

  26. Trish

    I will third the vinegar. Simmer in vinegar water and it should set completely.

    On the bright side – Beautiful scarf!!! The pattern is amazing.

  27. heatherly

    oh thank goodnes sit was the scarf! i thought it was the stripey blanket. the whole red bleeding on the other colours image was not nice!

    rit makes a product that removes dye. it may help your quilt 🙁

  28. Brenda

    It is beautiful! How too bad that the dye ran so much. Perhaps the dyers didn’t use the correct mordant. The vinegar treatment might also soften the silk analogous to women rinsing their hair with rainwater.

  29. christa

    Oh dear, I am currently knitting mystery stole 3 out of the exact same yarn. I don’t have a sacrificial blocking quilt, so I’m glad that I read this before blocking it.

  30. Rebecca

    I’m a loyal reader and a confirmed lurker, but I figured, why not go public? I love the scarf – it’s delightful even if it bled like mad and you’re less than thrilled with the colour. What prompted me to post is the comment about the addi lace needles – I’m with you. I think they could be a little more slippy. The texture of those needles makes my skin crawl. But the points are lovely.

  31. Kim

    I had bleeding with Clara Barton (ha, ha – do you think they knew she would bleed?) with Shaefer Anne. The customer service was apologetic and recommended a vinegar bath. I haven’t washed the piece again yet to know if it worked…

  32. Sam

    Aw, sucks about the bleeding! I really love the pattern, though – I hadn’t really paid too much attention to it before, but now I think I’ll definitely make it! It looks beautiful 🙂

  33. Judy G.

    Beauty scarf! I can’t decide which one to do from VLT; I keep flipping back and forth in the book. At this rate it will be worn out before I have knit anything else. (did the opera fichu in cottn- bad idea.)

  34. Frith

    I have also heard complaints about Schaefer yarns. I understand your disappointment, but it’s gorgeous either way.

    I actually think the Synthrapol got in your way. If I understand it correctly, it would have prevented any loose dye from adhering to your fiber, when you in fact wanted the loose dye to adhere. At this point, with the loose dye washed away, I think it’s too late for the vinegar to help you much (unless it’s still bleeding). But I second the suggestion of over-dyeing it to get back that gorgeous color.

  35. Tsarina of Tsocks

    Second the motion of hair conditioner to soften the silk – I use Mane & Tail, both the shampoo and the conditioner, on all my hand-knits (not to mention my hair), and have been very happy with the result.

    As for the bleeding – I second or third or fourth the motion to overdye, but I’m not so sure about the acid bath. There’s only so much you can accomplish that way. I’m by no means an expert on this but have asked someone I know who is – she’d had a history of bleeding with her blues, despite repeated acid baths, and after consultation with one of the dye manufacturers she learned that for some colors and fibers you actually need an ammonia bath to fully set the dye. I’m no chemist, nor do I play one on TV – also I’m bearing in mind that the bleeding symptoms were not exactly the same (in her case it was excess dye remaining on the fingers, with no serious loss of color to the yarn on washing) – still, if it were me I’d be wanting to know more about that aspect of things.

    And yeah, I would SO be all over Schaefer’s customer service on this!

  36. Margo

    Wow — that’s crazy! There’s no excuse, IMO, for a yarn to bleed like that. I have a skein of laceweight kid mohair that left streaks of red on my hands when I wound it and I’m terrified to use it.

  37. Jen

    There is something very existentially weird about a red-red-red colorway named Clara Barton bleeding.

    I third the steam iron!

  38. Laura Neal

    Remember this name….colour mart. They have incredible silk yarn for great prices. 🙂 They also sell cashmere by the cone.

    Your scarf is beautiful and I am thinking that the people who dyed it did not use acid dyes, they used that silk dye which after much experience, is a bitch to use, it runs like crazy.

  39. maryse

    bummer on the bleeding. but the scarf is beautiful.

    and i do love those addi lace needles. i didn’t notice any difference with the slippery-ness but maybe it wasn’t much of an issue for the project i used them for.

  40. Jenn

    Thank you for confirming the addi lace needles. I thought I was imagining that they weren’t as slippery… but I do quite like the points.

    And the scarf is gorgeous. I personally love the color. 🙂

  41. Marin

    I know it must be like taking a big swig from a bottle in the fridge, thinking you’re getting ice-cold lemonade and ending up with a mouthful of pickle juice (not necessarily the worst thing, but disappointing, nonetheless), BUT… I think the magenta is beautiful. It’s such a clean, strong, cheerful colour (at least on my monitor).

  42. aija

    Lovely scarf. I had the same bleed problem w. the same colorway in Schaefer Anne for socks– the red would just not quit bleeding, still. But my socks didn’t have the dramatic color change of your scarf…

  43. Auntly H

    I love that lace!

    I’m with you on the Addis. I want the “normal” Addi finish with the pointy tips of the “lace” version. For MS3, I switched to the old style because the stickiness was making me crazy. I miss the sharp points on the double decreases, but it’s worth it to have the work slide smoothly along with me.

  44. Sara

    When I was a weaving student, we were taught to wash every in mild soap and warm water as part of the finishing process, but, as you have discovered, silk frequently stiffens after washing (because water reactivates the sericin – the protein that holds the cocoon together.) You can soften it again by holding the ends and hitting it against a soft surface to loosen the fibers. I used to hit my silk items against my mattress. Sounds odd, looks odder, but it works.

  45. Pikku-Kettu

    It’s a shame about the color. I hope you’ll still feel good about finishing so that the scarf is not completely ruined for you. Personally, I think it’s lovely even with the bleeding but I know how something like that can disappoint.

    And if you can get some of that softness and sheen back by the “beating” method suggested by Sara, so much the better. I’ve never heard of this technique, so if you try it let us know how it worked.

  46. Jess

    Faded color or not, it is a gorgeous scarf. I’m adding another vote for steam – it does wonders for the texture of the silk scarves I dye for my kids to play with, so I’d guess that it’ll also do good things for knitted silk.

  47. connie

    This is beautiful. The pattern caught my eye too, but your version really clinches it for me. I’ll have to try this. Perhaps with the two skeins of Handmaiden Seasilk I have in my stash….

    As for softening silk, have you tried soaking it with a little of hair conditioner? I’ve heard this helps softens mohair and wool. I’m not sure what its effect on silk would be though. How disappointing that the color faded and is still not colorfast! Thanks for that piece of info.

  48. Jacinta

    Thank God it wasn’t the blanket! There really is something about red dyes it must be difficult to ‘bind’ the colour. It is an absolutely beautiful scarf regardless of the colour issues.

  49. Elena

    I’ve been waiting for this entry … oh, it is such a lovely scarf. Sorry for you problem with the yarn bleeding. It must have been horrible. Hope you will enjoy your scarf!

  50. Monica

    The scarf is lovely. It’s a shame about the bleeding, I have some silk fiber that presents the same problem that is sitting around waiting for a solution. You’re in good hands with June, though!

  51. robin

    Have you tried microwaving the shawl, adding a little vinegar to the water? Maybe it would help – using similar process to koolaid/easter egg dye. I have never had any of my colors bleed. Gorgeous knit – just gorgeous!

  52. claire

    I’m still trying to feel good about my recent very expensive Schaefer yarn experience. Also red. Also silk. Rosa Parks colorway, in Patty. Now discontinued, so the could’nt replace it. They sent me light green sock yarn to smoothe it over. Very sad experience.

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