Adventures in Yarn Dying

I loved dying stuff with Dylan fabric dyes when I was younger. I remember washing up bowls and buckets full of dye, elastic bands and dad’s old t-shirts; Rubber cloves and bamboo sticks from the garden shed used to stir the blue / green / purple liquids which would soon magically transform our boring clothes into, well, something a little bit more ‘interesting’.

It’s not surprising then that when reading about yarn dying on another blog I thought I would have to give it a go myself. I didn’t fancy forking out for new pans and kitchen utensils to use until I knew I could get good results so was pleased when I read about the ‘kool aid’ dying technique using an American cordial powder. I gave it a go and it worked! I was hooked but the Kool aid colour range was a bit limited, mostly reds and pinks.

I read up and purchased some landscape dyes which can be used to dye natural fibres like wool and cotton as well as some cheap saucepans, jugs etc.

I think I’ve finally cracked the technique. Here are some pictures of the yarn I’ve dyed and I’ve included a little step by step tutorial below in case you fancy a go. We sell the 100% Merino yarn I’ve used here.

To dye your yarn you will need

100% Wool yarn in a skein

Wool dyes (we’ve used landscape in Clematis and Desert Pea for the yarn below)

An old saucepan (not one you will use for cooking)

An old Spoon (again keep separate from your cooking utensils)

An old teaspoon to measure the dye

A measuring jug (old again)

Rubber Gloves

A sink

20150417_090609First of all soak your yarn in water for 30 mins. I use the pan but you can use the sink. It’s important to make sure the yarn is soaked through so the dye spreads evenly through it but 30 mins should be plenty for 100g yarn.

Boil the kettle and mix about 1/2 teaspoon of dye in boiling water (maybe 200ml) stir it and make sure it is dissolved.

When the wool has soaked remove it from pan and fill the pan with warm water, set the pan on the boil on a medium – high heat and stir in the dye mixture.

With this particular yarn I wanted to dye half of it red and half blue. When knitted this effect gives a few stitched in blue and then a few in red so you get a random effect. I dipped half the yarn into the red dye (sweet pea) and draped the other half into a small saucepan. Make sure (obviously) if you do this that the pans are touching and the yarn is not over hanging the flame. 20150417_105238

Put the heat on a very low simmer. For the first five minutes gently move the yarn around to ensure that it all gets dyed and then leave it for 30 minutes. By this time the dye should have set. Using rubber gloves remove the yarn from the saucepan (I just tip the lot into the sink) then I repeat the process for the other half of the wool. For the second half I used 1/2 teaspoon of blue dye (clematis) and made sure all of the white and some of the red yarn (maybe an inch or two) was submerged in the blue water. This meant that my finished yarn had a bit of deep purple in places.

When the yarn has been dyed rinse it through in hot water then gradually bring the temperature down to cold. Don’t bung the boiling wool straight into cold water as it may felt. You can then hang it on the washing line to dry.

Here is a picture of the yarn drying and then after I have re-wound it into a skein.


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