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Breaking Out the Dye Pot

I promised I would share my adventures in dyeing with you and that’s what today’s post is all about.


Of course, the first step is not all that fun – measuring out the skeins! I got out my skein winder and niddy noddy and set to measuring off 500 yard skeins of fingering weight yarn from Henry’s Attic. I bought these skeins right after the last time I dyed because I was desperate to dye some more and Knit Picks was sold out of their dye-your-own yarn back then. The jokes on me because if I had been more patient I could have had pre-measured skeins in plenty of time — the last time I dyed was a whole year ago! Anyway, I made up two 500 yard skeins, soaked them in water and vinegar for a while and then I headed for the garage.


Yes, that’s right – I now have a dyeing area in my garage. I can mix and measure and set everything up out there. I still have to use my kitchen stove for setting the dyes but I’m hoping to change that soon, too. One location dyeing will be mine! So here you can see my measuring cups and dyes and utensils and good stuff like that. You can’t see my rubber gloves and face mask because I’m already wearing them. Safety first, you know.


The first skein of yarn I did was handpainted with brown, green and blue. I wanted something that reminded me of my maple trees when the leaves first come out. Handpainting yarn is very simple. I put down plastic wrap and lay out the pre-wetted skein on that. Then I just squirt away with my colors. Once I’ve got it all painted I wrap it all up in the plastic and then steam it in a big kettle for about an hour.


I’m very happy with the results of this one. The green is exactly the color I was hoping for and the brown really does remind me of tree bark. The blue is a bit brighter than the sky but that’s okay by me.


I used the immersion method for the second skein of yarn. I mixed up 2 teaspoons of “turkey red” powdered dye with 4 teaspoons of vinegar and a cup of water. I put the skein of yarn into the dye pot full of water first then poured the dye on top. I only stirred a teeny bit because I wanted the red to be a bit mottled and not evenly dyed. I set this on the stove and let it simmer for an hour or so.


I’m pretty happy with the results of this one, too. There are a couple of spots where I had the skeins tied a little tight and the dye didn’t penetrate as well as it should have but I think that will make for more interesting knitting so I don’t mind too much.

The whole thing only took the better part of a morning. You can bet I’ll be dyeing again soon!

This Post Has 57 Comments

  1. You’re so damn talented. My dream vacation would be to spend a week with you learning how to dye and spin. Those colors are beautiful!

  2. Even though red is my favorite color and I tend to want every skein of it that I see, I am head-over-heels for the maple tree in spring one. Beautifully planned and beautifully done. What do you plan to make of it?

    “Safety first”? Are you a Red Green fan by any chance?

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