Easter is coming and so are those clearance sales on Easter Egg dye. Wanna try your hand at dyeing some yarn with it? I'm no expert but I will share some instructions I put together for a dyeing workshop I did with my knitting group several years ago.
Knit Picks Bare yarns are very inexpensive and great for dyeing experiments.
Wool yarn or roving (Animal fibers or silk. No cotton or acrylic.)
Old clothes, a shirt, or apron to protect your clothes.
Plastic silverware for stirring colors
Ziploc gallon size bags or clear plastic or glass containers
Cups to hold mixed dye
Vinyl gloves (or you'll have dyed fingers for days!)
Easter Egg dye tablets
Paper towels for cleanup
Newspapers to cover surfaces
Fill a sink with enough warm water to cover your yarn. Mix in a good splash of white vinegar before adding your yarn. Soak yarn for about 10 minutes until there are no dry spots. (Don't add vinegar if the color you want to use will split. See note below about mixing colors that split.) Drain the yarn after it's been soaked. Do not wring or twist. A plastic colander works great to drain the yarn or squeeze it gently to remove excess moisture.
While you're waiting for the yarn to soak, mix the colors you want to use. I usually mix my dyes in glass jars or mugs that I can put through the dishwasher. Put each color in a different cup. Boil some water and pour it over the dye tablets. Stir to get all the dye to dissolve. Now you're ready to pour, splatter, paint, or squirt the dye onto the yarn. :)
For one color:
Place yarn inside a Ziploc bag or clear container of some sort. Add pre-mixed dye to bag along with enough liquid to cover yarn. You may need to turn the bag later to get the color evenly through the yarn.
Lay yarn out on plastic wrap and pour, squirt, dot, or paint on different colored dyes as desired. Leave 1" between colors or they will bleed together. Turn the yarn and do the other side if you want good coverage. Wrap plastic around yarn; place inside a clear plastic bag.
Wrap bits of plastic wrap around sections of the yarn and tie tightly or rubber band off to keep the dye from hitting there. Dye as desired. You can add water to bag or not as desired. Adding water will mute the color.
Roving or fiber: Wrap in bridal tulle to stabilize while coloring and draining.
Seal bag (or container); set in sun to cook.
A temp of 165-180 degrees will set dye. (Temps at boiling or above will felt your wool.) About 90 minutes on a hot, sunny day should do it. You can put a test piece of yarn in the bag to use to check to see if color is set. (If it isn’t set you’ll wash all the color out.)
Not a sunny day?
You can also set the dye in a microwave, crockpot, etc. Watch that you don’t felt your fiber in the microwave by getting it too hot. Be careful not to melt the plastic. It might be better to place your yarn in a glass container instead. In the microwave, I added some water to the yarn, covered it with a lid, and cooked it for 5 minutes until it was very hot. You may want to check every minute or so to make sure you don't damage the yarn.)
Let the yarn cool down before you rinse it. Remember, agitation and hot water will felt wool! Rinse the cooled yarn in tepid to cool water. The color shouldn’t bleed (or not very much) if the color is set. (You can check to see if your dye is set before you rinse it. Pull a few strands out far enough that you can immerse them in water. If the color doesn’t bleed, you’re ready to rinse.) Hang to dry.
A Note About Easter Egg Dyes:
Read the package instructions. Some colors 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.
Add more water to lighten or mute a color.
1 tablet + 1 ounce yarn = bright color.
Primary colors: red, blue, yellow (can’t be mixed from other colors)
Secondary colors: orange, purple, green and other colors can be mixed.
Mix your dye tablets up first and then use them to form other colors using this chart as a guide.
To get this color, mix together these colors:
Apricot - 2 parts orange + 1 part yellow
Aqua - 5 parts blue + 1 part green
Blue Violet - blue + small amount of red
Brown - red + green
Chartreuse - 2 parts yellow + 1 part green
Coral - 3 parts pink + 2 parts yellow
Lavender - 5 parts pink + 1 part violet
Marigold - 3 parts yellow + 1 part orange
Orange - yellow + red
Peach - yellow + pink
Purple - red + blue (can be a tricky color to achieve)
Red Violet - red + small amount of blue
Teal - 9 parts blue + ½ part yellow
Yellow Green - green + yellow