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As I Lay Dyeing

I had my first dyeing adventures this past week and, oh boy, was it fun! As Geena Davis said in Thelma and Loise, “Now I understand what the fuss is all about.”

Using the book Dyeing to Knit, an email from Angelia, and the blogs of some experienced dyers as references, I began my journey at the kitchen table.

Here we see Dyeing Command Central. Note all the assembled supplies: laptop, vinegar, newspaper, measuring cups, dyes. Everything is ready to go.

To make my first attempt easy I decided to use the space dyed method as described in Dyeing to Knit. Basically, you immerse a skein of yarn into a dye pot by thirds. For the first third of the skein you use the darkest color. When that color is all absorbed you lift out the yarn, rotate it by 1/3, add the next color to the dye pot, and put the yarn back in. When that color is finished you do it again. Finally, when the whole skein has been dyed and all the dye is absorbed by the yarn, you drop the skein into the water and simmer for 45 minutes to set the color.

Simple, right? Frankly, anything is simple if you plan ahead.

I set about soaking some Knit Picks Dye Your Own sock yarn (sold out, don’t bother checking) in warm water and vinegar. And I encounter my first problem. The skein is only tied in 2 places and when it hits the warm water I wind up with a messy tangle of yarn. Hunh. Note to self: next time, tie the skein in a few more places before wetting.

Ahhh. The first color hits the yarn. And Carole’s second issue erupts. If the dowel sits across the dye pot too much of the skein is going to get dyed by this color. Did I check this in advance? As in, before I dunked the yarn in the dye? Nope. So, here I am, holding the yarn above the pot, trying to figure out a way to suspend it in mid-air. And, of course, I can’t let go and no one is here to help me.

Necessity is the mother of invention. And I’m really glad I keep the cast iron fry pans right next to the stove.

The second color is applied. Mmmm. Green.

And here’s the thoroughly dyed skein, simmering happily.

Finally, a hank of space dyed yarn. Not bad, I think. Of course, I was going for magenta, bright blue, and spring green and wound up with cranberry, navy blue and hunter green, but that’s okay. It’s all about the learning experience, after all. Oh, and the fun. And I had lots of fun.

But wait! There’s more! Tune in tomorrow to see the hand painted skeins that Blogless Sharon and I created together on Saturday night!

This Post Has 45 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the first dyeing! I have that same book, but have yet to try dyeing that way. That looks interesting. Great colors, too.
    Command Central. Ha ha ha ha That’s so cool.

  2. That is great yarn! And sounds like a fun technique. I tried my own but it didn’t turn out nearly as fun as yours… not as adventurous with color. Can’t wait to see it knit up!

  3. Looks wonderful, Carole. I saw that technique described in that book and my first thought was, “How the hell do you keep the dowel high enough.” Well, you solved that didn’t you. Clever.

  4. WooHoo! Nice looking skein with beautiful colors. Can’t wait to see it knit up!

  5. Well done! The colors are beautiful … and I am impressed by the resourceful solution to the dowel problem.

  6. Great job! But are you using acid dyes in your food prep areas? Or is that something safer, like kool aid?

  7. I love the colors, Carole! I had to laugh at your post – that would have been me, holding the skein up while dyeing it. **did you say that KnitPicks dye your own sock yarn is sold out??**

  8. I did my first dyeing this weekend, too. I improvised a coat hanger suspended from the cabinet door handle above the stove under similar circumstances.

    I’m still waiting for mine to finish drying so I can re-skank them and see if I like them at all. Yours looks beautiful. What dyes did you use?

  9. Dammit, woman, you’re making this look like WAY too much fun!

    I love your bright and happy hank ‘o hand-dyed yarn! You must be so proud. ; )

  10. Great colours, great post… love your command central photo. This is all way too much fin… I too spent the weekend, dyeing.

  11. That is a great skein – especially for a first skein!! I have that book, but haven’t tried that method. I’m more of a handpaint (even if I do thirds) and microwave kinda gal. I really liked what that book had to say about color wheels and am pleased that I picked up a color wheel – it really helps to see how you can go from the color you have to the color you want.

  12. Ah, you’ve been bitten by the dye-bug! Lookin’ great for your first time! Wow! Makes me want to get my dye out and play.

    Can’t wait to see what you’ve got to show tomarrow.

  13. That looks great, Carole! I love the idea of the colorway you were aiming for, but I really like this colorway too! Dyeing is sooo addicting! I’ve dyed way more than I can knit…

  14. Carole, you crack me up! Not too bad – it looks freaking great! Okay maybe not the colours you had wanted but it didn’t turn out looking like a skein of s**t coloured yarn! I love it; so when are you going to dye and spin some roving? LOL I am just being cheeky because I am sure you are already thinking about it!

  15. Oh, Dave has a lot to answer for, doesn’t he!?
    You did a fantastic job, and I shall expect hand-dyed yarn for Christmas this year!

  16. Wow – that really does look like lots of fun, and your colors are great! And you’ll be able to knit socks with yarn you dyed yourself! So, when are you going to dye your own handspun????

    I can’t wait!

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