Wednesday, April 25, 2007

First foray into dyeing

This week I had a lot of fun trying my hand at dyeing yarn for the first time. I didn't really stick with any set of specific instructions, so I'm very glad it came out as nice as it did!

Edited to add: The yarn I used was Kona Superwash DK, purchased from Catnip Yarns. It's the same yarn I talked about in this previous post.

Here's what I did:

First I soaked it in water and vinegar for a good long time.

I didn't measure the vinegar. I just glugged it in and kind of squished everything around a little bit to make sure it got to all the yarn. I think it sat for at least half an hour, maybe more, while I cleaned up the kitchen and got all my other stuff together.

After it was totally soaked through, I drained the bowl and squeezed the yarn gently to get more liquid out. I arranged it in my 9"x13" Pyrex pan and added enough water to just barely cover the yarn. I mixed up some PAAS easter egg dye tablets in jars - I just follwed the directions on the box, more or less. I added 3 tablespoons of vinegar per tablet, and I think I used two tablets of each color, so that's 6 tablespoons of vinegar per jar. Then I mixed some additional water into my dye jars, so that I could spread the dyes around a little more in my pan. I also added a little Wilton's "Golden Yellow" paste food color to the yellow solution, because I didn't think it was a bold enough yellow, but that was probably unnecessary. It just added a slight "warmth" to the color, which I probably didn't need. It's not a really orangey-yellow... but it's not the super light and bright yellow that I think I wanted. It still worked out well in the end, as you will see in the final pictures.

Here's the yarn in the Pyrex dish after I dumped all the dye on it:

And another angle:

I put my dish in the microwave for 5 minute stints, checking to see if the dye had exhausted between each time. It really didn't take long, maybe 20 minutes or so would be my guess. I wasn't keeping track - hey, this is art, not science! (Although I'm sure some would disagree. I guess it's a little of both...)

After the dye exhausted, I noticed that the yarn on the bottom and around the edges of the pan had not gotten much dye at all. Since this is a superwash yarn, I guess I could have just stirred it up to expose the white areas and re-dye them, but I didn't really want to do that, so I just mixed some more dye, grabbed my turkey baster, and literally injected more dye to yarn in the bottom of the dish! It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough, and that's ok for me. I felt like leaving tiny bits of white would help soften up the colors anyway, since the green came out just a little deeper than I had anticipated.

After I exhausted the dye from the injection round, I drained all the water out of the pan, squished more water out of the yarn, folded it into a towel and walked on it. Then I hung it up to dry.
Hangin' to dry

And THEN I realized I should have probably rinsed out the vinegar! So I took the hank down and rinsed it for a while, and then I gave it a nice little bath in Lavender Eucalan for good measure. I hung it up again, but I didn't take a picture that time. It looked exactly the same. You're going to have to trust me on this one.

The final wash did not help my fingers much. I was so gung-ho I didn't even consider wearing rubber gloves, and my left fingers and nailbeds ended up bright green, and my right fingernails ended up all yellow! I was able to scrub all the green off by the end of the night, but the yellow nails inexplicably lasted for another full day. Next time, I will probably have to use gloves just in case I don't get quite so lucky.

A couple days later after they yarn was all dry, I put it on my trusty swift and wound it onto a toilet paper tube. Hand-winding takes a little while anyway, but this is 560 yards we're talking about, so I think it took me an hour! (OK, I actually have no idea how long it took; I wasn't watching the clock and I have absolutely no sense of time.) But it seemed like it was probably a long time, because Jon said that I seemed hypnotized, and I know it was WAY past my bedtime when I finished. I still took a picture, but it didn't turn out very nice because of the bad lighting at that time of night. Here's a little thumbnail - if you are really dying to see a bad picture of yarn, go ahead and click it for a bigger version:
Hand dyed, hand wound (and too much flash!!)

And here are some nicer pictures I took in the sunlight the next morning (today)!
Natural sunlight :)
More accurate, truer colors
Tiny swatch

That swatch is just a teeny tiny one. I just wanted to get at least some kind of an idea of what I'd just created! And hey, it's not monstrously awful! I think this will be perfect for my needs - unisex baby clothes for my friend's baby, due this December!

I'm definitely, definitely, going to be doing tons more dyeing in the future. This project was so much fun I almost wish I had some kids of my own to share it with!


Anonymous Kelly said...

Wow - it turned out beautiful! Nice job!

I played around with some koolade dying a couple of years ago, with much less attractive results. I know why mine turned out so poorly: 1. crappy yarn 2. not enough koolade and 3. too many colors.

12:14 PM CDT  
Blogger Guinifer said...

Perfect for baby clothes! And thanks for the tutorial - I may have to try that too.

2:23 PM CDT  
Anonymous Alice said...

Dyeing is so fun! I just dyed a whole bunch of yarn with Easter egg dyes. Isn't it amazing the results you can get with such simple and inexepensive dyes?

I love the colors in that skein, though I think I would have gone crazy if I would have had to wind it by hand!

2:28 AM CDT  
Blogger Amber Joy said...

It wasn't that bad winding it up. ;) Hand-winding is kind of meditative for me, it's repetetive and relaxing and I love watching the ball form!

8:48 AM CDT  
Blogger Dianie said...

That looks like it was fun. What yarn did you use?

7:09 AM CDT  
Blogger Amber Joy said...

I used Kona Superwash DK, purchased from Catnip Yarns It's the same yarn I talked about in this previous post.

1:05 PM CDT  
Blogger Rani said...

I love it! I have to try this!

9:39 AM CDT  
Blogger gloria said...

dying fabric and yarn is so exciting to me (feel kinda ridiculous admitting it). It's like textile art meets chemistry. I love stewing different wools together to change the color of one or both. There's no certainty in what will happen - that's the fun part.

1:12 PM CDT  

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