Monday, March 8, 2010

Dyeing for prettier yarn

As you might be aware, I like buying sock yarn. Over the last couple of years, I've bought some kits and samplers that turned out to have some yarn colors that weren't exactly me. Here are a couple of examples.

KnitPicks Essential (now called Stroll) in Glacial - too pale

Okiteks Sock yarn in something Very Pink

Now, since there is no shortage of sock yarn in my stash, I *could* have given this away, but I thought I'd have a little fun with it. So I wound it into hanks and tied it with waste yarn to try to keep it from getting tangled.

Then I soaked it in some vinegar water:

It took a *long* time (like hours, no kidding) for it to get fully wet. You can still see the lighter, not quite soaked sections in that picture. That's about an hour into the soaking process. Once it was good and wet, I drained the hanks.

Next up, preparing the dye. I had picked up a couple of PAAS classic Easter egg dyeing kits. They each came with 9 color tablets in pink, red, orange, yellow, spring green, teal, blue, denim and purple.

Can you guess which is which?

I didn't really have a plan for how I was going to dye the yarn, but I figured I'd start with blue. I took a guess on which ones were the blue tablets and mixed up the dye as directed (3 Tbsp vinegar per tablet) in some condiment bottles from the dollar store. The color looked good.

I added water to the bottle, gave it a shake and put it on about half of each hank. Note, the bottles aren't exactly water tight, so be careful if you try this at home. Your mileage may vary with higher quality bottles. Oh, and wear gloves no matter what.

I thought I did a pretty good job getting the dye all the way through, but as I moved it around, I found I hadn't. So I proceeded to mix up the denim tablets. I did a better job of with that color, but I still wasn't happy. So I pulled out a couple of packets of blue raspberry lemonade Kool Aid, mixed them with about a quart of water and filled up the dish.

I microwaved it on high for 2 minutes, let it rest for 2 minutes, and repeated the cycle a few times till the water was mostly clear. When it was done, I decided there were still too many spots that were too light. So I went back to my tablets and picked the ones I thought were teal, but could have been green. I divided the dissolved tablets into two bottles this time and used the water from the dish to dilute it. I did my best to fill in the undyed areas and repeated the microwave cycles a few times.

Here's the result, having a little soak in the sink.

Not bad for a first attempt

Okay, one color down. For the pink yarn I wanted a more all-over color, so I dissolved the yellow and orange tablets in a measuring cup.

I added two packets of lemonade Kool Aid and water to make about a quart. I put about half of that in the dish, put the pink yarn on top, pushed it down, then poured the rest of the dye over top. It still looked pink to me, so I sprinkled another packet of lemonade Kool Aid on top and scrunched it in. Still wasn't happy, so I sprinkled a packet of black cherry Kool Aid on top and mixed that in a bit. I turned the yarn over and did it again.

Much better

Another round of on/off microwaving and it was done. I rinsed it, squeezed it out, rolled it in a towel and put it on a rack to dry.

Here are the final results:

That's a little bit of the original color on top

Yeah, I had 2 balls of that pink

You can still see a bit of the pink where the waste yarn wasn't as loose as it should have been. I think I'm okay with that. After I knit it up, if it bothers me, I'll mix up some black cherry and lemonade Kool Aid and spot dye those areas. A little of the pink might make a nice accent.

If I do this again, I think I'll wind the hanks around something longer. They fit nicely in the dish this way, but they didn't work so well on the swift when I was winding. I'll also add at least one more piece of waste yarn. It took me over an hour to wind the blue/green yarn because it was so tangled. I'm terrified of the orange yarn. You might not be able to tell from the picture, but it's really a mess. I think I'd divide that 100g ball into two 50g balls before I dye it, to make it more manageable, too.

So pretty.....

Overall, though, it was fun and I'm glad I did it.

"I'll untangle that yarn for you, Mama"


Monica said...

looks like fun!

Pretty Knitty said...

Nice pics. . .and now, you are a dyeing expert! I would almost pay to see the results if you let the cats help you dye next time. . .lol!

ConnieB said...

I don't know about "expert" but it was definitely fun.

I'm already mentally plotting how to fix the other "Very Pink" yarn. Purple, for sure - good idea! Any idea how well purple egg dye works? I read that grape Kool-Aid isn't so good.

The cats would *love* to help me play with my yarn. I'd probably end up with blue cats. We dyed my cousin's cockapoo once, with that Barbie styling head hair color stuff. He didn't mind a bit, but we all got some funny looks when we took him for walks. ;-)