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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Monday, 28 June 2010
I did it. And I liked it.

I dyed yarn.

I have resisted the temptaion for so long, but I finally gave in and ordered some undyed yarn with a co-op order.  I mean, I have the dyes *right here* and I dye protein fiber (silk) several days a week, so what is a little yarn, right?! (Yes, I hear the eerie laughter of the addicted yarnies out there).

As it happened I needed/ wanted some particular semi-solids, so I was all set!

Paper towel or cloth towels/ rags
Plastic wrap
Acid dyes (or kool-aid)
Containers for mixing dye (no food use after)~ I have a collection of old mugs and beer cups for dyeing
Stainless steel utensils (no food use)
Bowl/ dish for steaming (no food use)
Paint brush, sponge etc. for dye application

Here is my process, your mileage may vary (and you may want to rely on another resource for more accurate measuring as I relied on my own experience with my dyes at hand and I dye like I cook... a pinch,  a dash... make it up as I go along)!

1)   I put three skeins on the yarn in a room temperature bath in the sink to saturate them (as wool is slow to soak) and left them for an hour while we ran errands.
 2)    I oh-so-gently squeezed out the excess water and set the yarn aside.

3)    I then laid out a double layer of towels (paper in this case, but given how little mess, I could have used/ should have used old cloth/ rag towels) and covered that with a double layer of plastic wrap. A non-food prep area is ideal if using acid dyes.

4)    I mixed up my dye. As I was making semi-solid yarn, I started with the lightest colour and then gradually added dye towards the darkest (as I needed less of the dark) as I worked.  I used Acid dyes and vinegar~ a good glug of vinegar in a plastic beer cup, some tepid water (too warm/ hot can exhaust the dye before it is applied, or too soon after, it can also felt your wool~ some dyes will take considerable mixing and need warmer temps to dissolve well, however) and a sprinkle of dye to colour (yes, that is my measurement!). Remember yarn will dry lighter than the colour it is when wet.
5) Lay out the skein of yarn on the plastic wrap, spreading it as much as you can.  Apply dye.  For a semi-solid, you can randomly apply by finger, brush, sponge etc.  To get a good base of the lightest colour, I simply poured and gently squished it through the yarn.  Repeat with each colour/ shade until satisfied.
6) Roll your yarn into the plastic wrap.  Keep in mind, if you have a lot of loose dye on the wrap, this will spread freely around on the yarn when wrapped up for steaming and will further blend/ blur colours.  If you want tidier divisions, carefully remove the excess dye water and take care not to squeeze your wrapped bundle of yarn.  As I was not too concerned about blending, I wrapped, left a small opening, and gently poured off some of the excess.  Close your wrapping completely and either bag it or wrap another layer of plastic wrap over it.
7) Steam.  The dye requires both acid and heat to fix properly.  I used the microwave~ placing my yarn bundle on an old Tupperware dish, adding some water to the base for safety.  Heat on High for 2 minutes, let rest at least 2 minutes and repeat as much as is needed for the dye water in the pouch to be clear (all dye fixed).  My pink and brown took only 2 sessions (4 micro minutes) but the red required a third and could likely have used a fourth.
8) CAREFULLY remove your yarn bundle and set it aside (I put it in the sink).  It can sit in its pouch until you are ready / until it cools.  I opened my pouch to let it begin to cool down more quickly.  Allow it to come to room temperature on its own.  Remember squeezing at this point (hot and steamy) is a great way to make felt!  Rinse with water the same temp as the yarn~ rolling and squishing rather than twisting and squeezing!

9) When you have removed as much excess water as you can (hanging heavy wet yarn may unduly stretch your fiber), hang or stretch out to dry.  We had a nice windy/ sunny day and my skeins dried in a couple of hours outdoors.
10) Yay!  You have dyed your own yarn! Here is 'Pink Flamingo' knit up and felted:
Have fun!


nova_j said...

hey go you! it's fun huh? you can also just use plain food colouring + vinegar too if you want another kitchen-friendly option..

love your results!!

Anonymous said...

very useful post. I'll try to dye my yarn at some point!

lafiabarussa said...

mi piace tantissimo a colorare la lana.
La seta, che fai tu รจ molto bella!

Ashley said...

this is so cool!!!! ill have to try! thanks

Malinda Jane Sieg said...

Thank you for sharing this! I will have to try this out myself!

ElisabethAndree said...

What a cool post! Love the result, the colors are beautiful, the yarn is looking lovely:)

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