When I was a child, I always looked forward to the summer. It meant long days, no homework, and my favorite thing of all, summer camp. While I was fortunate enough to attend a few different types of camps, I always enjoyed science camp the best. My favorite part about science camp? Definitely the experiments.
Even though I love the idea of experimentation, I find that I don’t experiment nearly enough with my knitting projects. I am trying to change this now, but knitting is usually an un-experimental process for me. I find a yarn I like, choose a pattern (or vice versa), and get started. Other than changes in gauge, yarn, and a few modifications here and there, I largely stick to projects that will give me predictable results.
A product called Inkodye has opened my eyes up to a whole new world of surface design and experimentation. Inkodye is a UV light-activated dye which allows you to print images on fabric. It is a innovative way to add color and pattern to your knitting without relying on traditional methods like stripes, stranding, and intarsia.
The Inkodye process is fairly simple and user-friendly. All you really need to get started is fabric, Inkodye, image-making materials, and sunlight. You can make images by using photographic inkjet paper, or a technique called shadow printing.
We used the shadow printing technique to create our swatches. For our experiment, we gathered plant materials around our yards and then placed them over swatches of Shibui Cima in Ivory. Covering parts of the swatch with opaque objects blocked out the sunlight, resulting in negative images kind of like a photogram.
The hard part about experiments is that there is usually a little room for improvement. While I had fun with the process, there are definitely a few variables that I would change next time. Next time I would try flattening the leaves/petals out so they left behind a more defined shape, and seeing if leaving the swatches out longer in the light would result in deeper, more saturated colors. I also can’t wait to experiment with photographic negatives.
There is so much more you can do with Inkodye—you can try mixing different colors of Inkodye together to get new colors, you can fold and dye your fabric in the Shibori manner, and you can draw on transparency film and make up a hand-drawn pattern repeat! There are all sorts of project ideas in the Inkodye gallery.
Experimenting with Inkodye has made me realize that there is so much to explore in the world of knitting and surface design. Even if you don’t use Inkodye this summer, there are multiple ways to experiment with your knitting that you might not have considered before. Try combining two different yarns together. Knit freestyle, without a pattern. Go outside of your usual color comfort zone. Combine several techniques in one project. You just might be surprised at what you come up with!