Thursday, November 26, 2009

A good day to dye

I had the day off from work today. I find that when I'm stressed out at work, occasionally I just need to take a day off and have a bit of a rest. Today I watched some TV and decided to attempt to dye my big bag of cream Cleckheaton 12ply. I got all the food colouring out of the cupboard, realised it wasn't going to be enough, and set the yarn to soak in a 50:50 mix of luke-warm water and white-wine vinegar (I should have used white vinegar but I didn't have any, and the white-wine vinegar was very old) while I did some other stuff and then went to the supermarket for more food colouring.

This stuff is only 99c for a 50ml bottle and the girl on the checkout didn't bat an eyelid when I put through this little lot. People must buy some really strange combinations of stuff.

I roughly followed the guidelines set out by Suse from Pea Soup.

I covered the kitchen bench with cling wrap, squeezed the excess liquid from my skeins and laid them out. There's 350g or yarn here.

I wanted a rich green with small spots of yellow, so I made up a mix with two bottles of green, and one bottle of blue. I tested the colour on a small piece of kitchen paper and it was a bit too green so I added a glug more blue. I was more interested in trying the process than repeating the exact outcome so I didn't measure the glug.

Then I started pouring food colouring onto the yarn. I've since realised that I should have mixed it with some vinegar as well, but everything seems to be reasonably colour-fast now so there must have been enough vinegar left from the pre-soak.

I ran out of my dye mix towards the end and just tried to squeeze some dye out of the greener of the skeins I'd already done. The last couple of skeins have ended up a bit lighter than I wanted but it's all a bit of a learning experience.

I put the first half of the skeins in a glass bowl and microwaved for 5 minutes, let it cool and microwaved for another 5 minutes. I let it cool a bit, then chucked it in the sink and ran the hottest water that comes from the sink over it, gradually cooling down the water until the yarn was cold and the dye stopped running. When I had a good look, I realised that I had just put the first skein at the bottom of the bowl and piled the others on top. This led to the green dye from the other skeins pooling at the bottom of the bowl so the first skein is very dark and the yellow has been almost completely overdyed with green.

When I set up the second bowl for microwaving I grabbed the yellow sections and held each skein's yellow bits at the top, putting each skein in vertically rather than plonking them on top of each other. This worked a lot better and the yellow, which came out a lot more orange than I wanted, stayed well defined on the second set of skeins.

Here's what they look like hanging on the line after their rinse.

Not what I imagined, and I'm not really certain that I like the way the colours turned out, but I'm really happy about the experience. I certainly think I will live to dye another day!


  1. Love it Lexy! Watch out it is severely additive!

  2. LOL those are Australian colors for sure :-)

  3. LOL! I am not surprised it is so colourfast if your soak was 50% vinegar. Love the colourway.

  4. Looks interesting, something I would like to try. Can't wait to see how it knits up, which will be the really interesting bit

  5. I can't wait to see how this knits up! I have 14 skeins of white yarn that I got in a Spotlight sale I'm envisioning pink and white, yummy!!!!

  6. I got asked for ID by the guy at Safeway last time I bought food colouring for yarn dyeing. One of the stranger experiences of my life.