Monday, March 05, 2007

A Good Day to Dye

Ta-daa! This is the skein I did last night (and pictured below in the dyeing process).

I haven't done any knitting yet today 'cuz I've been dyeing all day. I started dyeing yesterday, dyed all morning today, and will probably dye some more tomorrow. Hee hee! The kids love it when I dye yarn. They make all kinds of jokes.

I don't dye very often, but I've had fun with Kool-aid in the past. I was reading Spindlewand a few days ago and discovered that T was dyeing with Wilton's icing dyes. I had some yarn to return to Michaels so I traded it in for a bunch of colours of Wiltons. I was really hoping to get a better colour range than I can get with Kool-aid.

Okay: Basic method and Stuff I Use:

Step one is to hank up the yarn and soak it in vinegar water. I filled a bowl about 2/3 full of warm water and added about a cup of vinegar. I let it soak for about an hour. This morning I had three different hanks soaking in that size of bowl.

I use plastic bottles for my dyes; then I can squirt the dye where I want it. You can buy these bottles at craft stores. I've also used bottles from make your own soaps etc. shops, and plastic ketchup bottles, whatever.

I mix some Wiltons with about half a cup of hot water. How much? Well, I am not a scientist, and I'm always changing it. But it was about half a teaspoon of Wiltons for about half a cup of water. I do all sorts of other things too. I make a mix of wiltons in a measuring cup and dip part of the skein. I squirt skeins with those bottles. I rinse and dip and squirt again. I use Wiltons full strength (very dark) and spread it using a plastic paint palette knife. I use paintbrushes. I play, okay. You have to find your own rhythm here. More water = lighter colours. Less water = darker colours. No water = very dark colours.

When I'm done dipping and squeezing over the sink, I lay the skein out on a bunch of plastic wrap to do touch ups. For the skein below, I just pulled it from the vinegar soak all white and untouched, squeezed out a lot of the water, and used the squirt bottles to put dye where I wanted.

I ALWAYS use latex gloves or similar. Then I can pick up the skein and squeeze to blend colours, or squish colour through, or add full strenth Wiltons. I really get into the process of this.

When I'm done playing, I wrap it up in the plastic wrap, set in a microwave safe dish (usually have to curl up the roll to fit) and microwave on high for 2 minutes; open the door of the microwave and let cool for 2 minutes, and microwave on high for two more minutes.

Then I dump the plastic wrapped roll into my empty bathtub to cool off. When it is just warm (not hot) I remove the plastic wrap and rinse the dyed yarn in a sink of warm water. You have to be careful here. If you shock the yarn or run the water over it, or move it around too much, it can felt. Try to keep the water warm, not cold, and avoid much agitation. Squeeze water out, or roll up in old towels and squeeze. Then hang it up to dry.

Today, while my dyed yarn skeins were still damp, I rolled it up in old towels and stood on it to get out extra water. Then I carefully unskeined and re-skeined it. I did this so that it would dry faster, and also because I wanted to separate out the strands so there would be no sticking together. You don't have to do this step unless some felting has occured (some sock yarn looked to be in danger to me, so I unraveled it while it was still damp.

That dyed skein above was done yesterday. It is an old ball of Sirdar Super Nova white that was hanging around a long time. So I made it colourful. I wrecked a skein of cheapo wool yarn last night (played until it turned a terrible colour). This morning I dyed a skein of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes undyed. I like how it turned out. And I did some leftovers of Patons Classic Wool in various green colorways. And I overdyed some boring yellow sock yarn. I will post all these goodies tomorrow when it is dry.


Marta said...

Glad I came over to take a better look at your yarn - it is stunning! Can't wait to see the rest!


Anonymous said...

You make is sound simple, even though there are many steps involved. Love the colors - what will you make from it?

Madge said...

Ooh, now I wanna grab my Kool-Aid and get dying, too.... *smile*

Les said...

Beautiful ssaturated colours. They will be such fun to knit with! So, what's for dinner? ;-}

Sandra D said...

I really appreciate your detailed instructions, including the specifics like plastic wrap on the counter, felting warning, re-skeining, oh and playing around with paintbrush & palette knife (that sounds like fun!). It seems doable and what fantastic results! Hmm...maybe when both my boys go away to college, but meanwhile I enjoyed your play-by-play :-).