Wednesday, June 20

Wool Dyeing Workshop

Here's my finished yarn from the Dyeing Workshop on Saturday. None of the colors is as intense as it looked when it was wet. The middle skein is Knit Picks laceweight yarn (880 yards). I squirted on green and a red violet color. The outside skeins are Skacel merino laceweight (1,375 yards). The Skacel yarn started out a very pale pink color that I didn't like. I overdyed one skein with a purplish color and the other with turquoise. I like how they both turned out. I may use one of them to knit Mystery Stole 3. (If you'd like to join the fun, don't wait long. Membership will be closed on July 6.) I've ordered some crystal beads to use on the stole.

Our Frog Pond Fiber Arts group had a lot of fun dyeing wool at Elizabeth's house. One member, Janet, had bought out one store's supply of Easter Egg dye at 90% off. We didn't even put a dent in it! I was the Dyemaster for the day. I laughed at that since I'm no expert. I've only done this twice before. Once everyone saw how easy it was to do, they had fun with it. I heard a number of people talking about trying it again.

Supply List:
Wool yarn or roving (or other animal fiber or silk)
Easter Egg dye tablets
A gallon of white vinegar
16 ounce hot beverage cups
Plastic spoons
Ziploc gallon size bags
Vinyl gloves (which no one used)
Plastic wrap
Squirt bottles
Paper towels

I warned everyone to wear old clothes they didn't mind getting dye on. I set up the dye station on the patio in the shade. We presoaked the yarn in a big plastic tub in warm water laced with vinegar. While it was soaking, we mixed up the dyes in cups. We drained the yarn, placed it into Ziploc bags, added dye and some water, sealed them, and laid them on the hot patio to cook in the sun.

Several of us tried another method. We laid our yarn out on plastic wrap, filled some squirt bottles with different colors, and had fun squirting it on. Wrap it up, put it in a bag, and lay in the sun to cook. You can turn the bags over after awhile to make sure that all the yarn gets colored.

With the intense sun and heat, it didn't take long before the water in the bags was clear. This is good. It means the dye has been absorbed in the yarn and should be set.

Elizabeth's house has a pool. When everyone was done dying wool they sat on the edge of the pool with their feet in the water to cool off. The chlorine in the pool water was helpful in getting dye off your hands too. LOL!

It was very hot, even in the shade where we were working. I found out later it was 93 degrees. It was almost too much for me. I didn't realize how much the heat was affecting me until I went inside.

We all left for home with bags full of hot, wet yarn. I told them to take it home, let it cool, and rinse it out in cool or warm water. Gently squeeze out some of the excess water and hang it in the bathtub to drip.

Some notes about dye tablets:

Read the package instructions. Some colors will split if you add vinegar to the dye. Be aware of this fact unless you don't mind what color(s) you get. If you're using non-vinegar dyes, don't presoak your yarn in vinegar. Add the dye to your wet yarn and let it cook for awhile before you add some vinegar. Adding the acid at this stage, should stop the color from splitting.

You can't always tell what color a dye tablet is just by looking at it. If you want to find out without mixing then all up, here's what you can do. Dampen a paper towel. Take a dye tablet and touch it lightly to the paper towel to see what color it is.

Have fun! We did!


Aubrey said...

I wish I could have been there! I'll have to find some dye and dye my own yarn. It looks fun, and I hope I'll be around for the next one!

MUDNYC said...

Great description, Vicki! I can't wait to try it out here. I'm sure you were an excellent dye master!

Sarah said...

Lovely as usual.
It's hard to reconcile how much I like dying yarn and how much I like the look of hand-dyed yarn, with my normal penchant for solid colors.

Alpaca Granny said...

Oh, my, I have never used the sun to set dyes before. Wish for a sunny day tomorrow because I'm going to try it. I use my regular acid dyes.