Sunday, February 16, 2014


I have always been fascinated with dying fabric and yarn with natural dyes. Those made from plants or tree bark or nut hulls. Sadly, it is the middle of winter and nothing useful is available for the colors I want to dye with.

When a project came up that I could not find the right color for, I started looking at dyes. My green dye was a failure because the color on the bottle was about 25 shades OFF from the color it actually was. Poopy. Big Poopy.

I did some reading and tried to dye with food dyes, I used some Wilton frosting color. Again, no good (and now I am very low on Leaf Green dye).

I read some more and found that I was missing something. Soda Ash and Urea are apparently needed to dye cotton. A trip to the craft store will remedy that, but it is not something I am going to do today. Today is a stay at home in pajamas kind of day.

Well, I stared in disappointment as the beautiful green washed out of my yarn during rinsing and felt defeated. Then I remembered that I had bought a wool blend to dye.

I got out my skein and laid it out and, tied it up so that it would not get tangled. I set it to soak in a water and vinegar bath for an hour like recommended. Next I prepared my dye.

Now, I was not sure if I was going to write about this event, so I didn't take any pictures of the yarn prep, but I will next time I dye. I DID use the concept presented here on Instructables though I knew I wanted it to shift colors, so I put my dye in one jar so I was only dipping part of it. You could do the same with a bowl though if you had more yarn.

I laid out sheets of plastic wrap on an old cookie sheet, drained the vinegar from my yarn and gently pressed the water out it so it was damp but not soaking. Next, I dipped all but 4 inches of the skein into the jar of dye. I pulled it out slowly and tipped up the plastic wrap, the bottom of the skein stayed in the dye for about 10 minutes. Once it looked about right I pulled it out of the jar, wrapping it up in the plastic wrap as I went, gently curling the plastic wrapped yarn into a sort of dog poo looking pile with the darkest part on the bottom of the pile.

 I set that in a glass bowl, dark part down and nuked it in the microwave for 3 minutes to heat it. It is now dangling in my sink, the plastic wrap tied to my faucet to keep the colors from bleeding UP. I have to let it cool all the way without touching it or I run the risk of felting the yarn a bit. I don't want that to happen!

Next I rinsed it out and WITHOUT wringing it, set it somewhere to dry. I used my bath tub, hanging it off the shower head.

It wound up being too light in the end, so I repeated the process in a new batch of dye and it came out perfect.

This time though, my daughter got to it once it was dry and I couldn't get a picture of the skein looking pretty.

And then I wrapped it all up into a ball.

I have a project in mind for this, I just need to learn a bit more about fair isle knitting! 
I wish I could fully describe how soft this yarn is. how perfectly the dye came out, how amazing the colors look. I would totally recommend dying yarn to anyone who wanted to try it. You get a one of a kind color that no one else in the world will ever have, because you made it yourself.

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