Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to dye your Easter.... YARN!

I have had this in my mind for a long time, but just now finally did it! There are several reasons it happened: a) my baby is bigger now and I have a little bit more free time (until she starts crawling, that is.... :D; b) I saw those Easter egg dyes in the supermarket the other day - right under my nose; c) I had a yarn in my stash that would probably sit unused for a long time, just because I am tired of the color - I have done 5 projects with it already. Enough is enough. I love the yarn though..... So, here's what I did.

Coloring Yarn in Sections, using Easter Egg dyes

My goal was to create a yarn for a triangle shawl that will have the body of the shawl in one color, and the edging in a different color, changing to a more edgy note towards finishing. To keep it realistic, and keeping in mind this is something I do for the first time, I opted for four colors.
List of things I needed:
  • enough yarn for the shawl (or whatever other project you are making this for) - we're talking animal fibers this time - I used 80% extra fine merino/20%mohair fingering weight yarn, bought in ColourMart.
  • Easter egg dyes (or other dyes you can use for yarn)
  • yarn swift
  • glass jars, preferably the same size (I'll explain later why)
  • pots that will fit your glass yars
  • white vinegar
  • gloves
  • scrap yarn (preferably one that will not take dye as well, like cotton perhaps?)
To prepare yarn for coloring, wind it on swift. Plan, how much of each color you'll want, in my case, I want a little bit edgy color in the edge of shawl - wind it on swift (I weight it later, it was just 3g of yarn) and tie it with scrap yarn in 4 places, continue with next color, a bit more yarn (my scales later showed 11g, but I really just went with my gut), tie it again with scrap yarn in 4 places, so that both colors are tied separately, continue with third color ( I did 28g of it), tie again in 4 places, and then the last color till the end of the yarn, this is the biggest section (in my case - 36g). Tie that one as well.When you are done, take them off swift carefully and separate each section.

Soak yarn in warm water thoroughly, be careful not to tangle the skeins. Just place them in a small basin and cover with water, pressing down gently. Leave to soak while you prepare the dyes.

Preparing the dyes

If You are using Easter egg dyes, like me, be prepared for a moment of creativity and surprises.... :) My egg dyes came as a powder, and they were really concentrated. I only used very little of what was in the sacket and I could have used even less. If you use powder, poor some water in the glass jars first, so the powder would not stick to the bottom and dissolve easier. Create a mixture of colors to your liking and test them with a strap of white paper, this will give you an idea of the shade you'll be getting (not the intensity, though!). Add some vinegar. I searched over the internet to see how much - did not find any specifics, just approximations. So I added 1 shot glass to the big jars and about half that much to the small ones. It seams to have worked well. Stir well and place the jars in a pot with some water, then place the yarn inside.

 Now about the heating process. Remember where I said to use the same size jars? That's because the smaller ones were heating up faster than the big ones, and you should really aim to retain the same temperature in all of them. Make sure they don't boil - the wool will felt. In fact I did not let the t` pass 70`C for that fear, but I think you can go up to 80`C. The yarn should stay in the dye until it absorbs all of the color, move the thread that is "hanging" to get the dye, too.

Once the yarn has absorbed all the color, or when you are happy with the result, carefully take it out of the jars (beware the water will be hot...). Let it cool a bit and rinse each skein separately, pay attention to water t` in order not to shock the yarn and felt it! Gently squeeze out as much water as possible and hang them to dry.

This is how my yarn looked while still wet:

 When it is completely dry, put it back on the yarn twist and wind it! My yarn winder is still on my wish list (I always opt for getting a cone of yarn instead.... or two...) but this time I really wish I had one so it would show all color change. Untie one section at a time as you go, so it doesn't get tangled anywhere. Here is why you should tie the yarn with fiber that does not absorb color well:
tied with the same color - clearly visible stripe of lighter color!

tied with a cotton-mix string that does not absorb color - nearly no difference in coloring
But then again, these lighter spots make it look more interesting:
that's my smallest section - last color I'll knit on shawl
that's my second section
that's my third color where I plan to start the border of the shawl....
And this beautiful raspberry red will be the body!
This is it. If you decide to do this, please remember that I only have done it once so far! I did my research for it, and it worked just fine, so I thought I'd share it. Also, if you do that - come and share your experience. So far yarn dyeing is a new adventure for me, and it is so much FUN! :)

Hope You enjoyed reading it,

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