Friday, April 8, 2011

Live like you were dyeing...

I really need more hobbies like a hole in the head...but I have been wanting to learn how to dye my own yarn for ages.  Most things I usually just jump in with both feet, but not this.  I have spent the past few months reading every dyeing forum on Ravelry and going through the guide I got (World of Color) with my Greener Shades beginner kit obsessively.  I couldn't decide which method I wanted to start out with, what equipment I wanted to use and how much dye stock I should mix up.  This is funny since I used to whip up a batch of candles, soap or mineral make-up on a whim...but I was just so afraid of ruining my yarn!

Anyway I finally did it!  First I got some natural color Red Heart: Heart and Sole absolutely no guilt if it came out horrible!  I decided to go with a kettle dyed/immersion for the first batch, using quart mason jars in a turkey roasting pan with a rack on the bottom so the jars weren't in contact with the bottom of the pan.  I wound the yarn into 7 - ~7gm mini skeins and used 4 figure eight ties on each to prevent tangling.  Next, the mini skeins soaked in warm tap water with a drop or two of Dawn dish soap for about 2 hours.

While the yarn was soaking, I mixed up some stock solutions.  Since I had enough jars, I mixed every color all at 1% depth of shade (DOS) or 1 gm dye powder to 100 mL of water. I have a pretty good scale from my soap and candle making days, so that came in handy for weighing out the dye powder.  After every color was mixed, I wrung out the soaked yarn and began to prepare my set up.

Once all of the jars were in place, and filled with about 3 cups warm tap water, I added the dye.  I have a ton of 3 mL pipettes, which were extremely helpful for measuring the small amounts of dye stock needed for my mini skeins, as most were done at .2% DOS, requiring only a mL or 2 of each color.  After the dye was added and stirred, the yarn went in.


I heated the jars of yarn and dye until they were approx. 175 degrees F and held at that temp for 10 min.  Then I added approx. 1/4 tsp of citric acid crystals to each jar and stirred well.  I upped the heat and waited 5 mins to see if the dyes exhausted.  All of them, but the Hot Fuchsia and the blends with Coral Reef Aqua had exhausted.  So I added more citric acid those colors, approx. 1/8 tsp every 5 min until the dye had exhausted.

dyeing 2

Next I added an overydye, Midnight Black (at .05% DOS) or Silver Gray (at .5% DOS).  I learned the hard way that you shouldn't add it undiluted directly on top of the yarn as it will strike extremely fast!  So I moved the yarn to the side of the jar, and mixed the dye stock with a few TBSP of hot water from the dye bath before adding it.   I was very pleased with the results, a lovely "shaded" look.  I let the yarn cook for another 10 min at 180 degrees F, then took the jars out of the roasting pan to allow them to cool.  The Hot Fuchsia and Coral Reef Aqua needed a bit more time and higher temps, so I let them hang out for 10 mins longer and heat to about 210 degrees F.

baby yarns 2

From top to bottom:
  • Jacquard Silver Gray @ 1% DOS
  • Greener Shades 55% Ruby Red, 20% Yellow, 25% River Blue @ .2% DOS overdyed with Silver Gray @ .5% DOS (this is the one I added the overdye directly on top of the yarn and it came out a bit splotchy)
  • Jacquard Hot Fuchsia @ .2% DOS overdyed with GS Midnight Black @ .05% DOS
  • GS 65% Coral Reef Aqua, 35% Ruby Red @ .5% DOS overdyed with Midnight Black @ .05% DOS
  • GS 55% River Blue, 45% Amethyst Purple @ .2% DOS overdyed with Silver Gray @ .5% DOS
  • GS 80% River Blue, 20% Amazon Green @ .2% DOS overdyed with Sliver Gray @ .5% DOS
  • GS Coral Reef Aqua @ .2% DOS overdyed with Midnight Black @ .05% DOS

So I am super psyched with how the yarn came out!  As soon as the eBook is finished, I am going to go on a crazy week long yarn dying bender!


  1. Bwaahahaaaaa, Yup you have caught the fever! Glad to see you are enjoying Greenershades. I have been using them for about a year. I am far less particular about measuring,(I like to dump). I took some fleece that i had dyed some 18yrs ago in the 90's in my bathtub and over-dyed it. Beautiful! I now love over dying and saving ugly yarns from doom.

  2. Yes I am definitely addicted! I figured that I had better measure, since this was a test to see what colors I want to dye a couple sweater quantities of yarn...and and a bunch of Bare Stroll and Gloss fingering I grabbed from KnitPicks!

  3. Gorgeous! This is something I'd like to try out over the summer. I would like to how to hand-paint, mainly (to make some betta-color-inspired yarn!), but knowing how to do all sorts of dying techniques wouldn't be a bad idea. I was thinking of getting the book Hand Dying Yarn and Fleece. Did you run across that one in your reading?

  4. Hi Ness...I have heard of that book, but I don't have it. I may actually download the eBook version to further my obsession. Hand-painting is next on my list to try, I may give it a whirl this week, and I will be sure to post the results if I do!