18 December 2011

Gradient Dyeing Attempt #1

I found this wonderful tutorial via Pinterest with instructions on gradient dyeing wool with Kool-Aid.

I had to give it a try. I have a ton of crafty stuff to get done before Christmas (in a WEEK) so I thought I'd add to that by spending hours staring at blue yarn waiting for it to exhaust.

I used Knit Picks Bare in a discontinued variety that is essentially Stroll. First, I had to divide in in half so the socks would match.
weighing half the yarn

Then I rolled the other half into a ball. The tute told me to put tension on the yarn when winding into a ball. I think this was a mistake and resulted in the dye not being able to penetrate into the ball well enough. If/when I do this again, I'll put as little tension as possible. I mean, you don't want it just falling apart but that wouldn't really be winding it into a ball, now would it? 

Also not in the instructions: soaking the yarn. The thing here is that if you use any more than a very small amount of liquid, the ball will float UNLESS it's been soaked ahead of time. So soak that puppy! There is nothing to lose. I'd add a little vinegar. What the hell. 
yarn soaking

Because I did this with blue, which we all know takes notoriously long to exhaust, I decided to do this in the oven instead of on the stove top. I wanted to be able to leave it for a long time, plus I do not relish the idea of burnt yarn. (I also like to use a probe thermometer and really be able to know what's going on.) I ended up with the yarn in a clear pyrex bowl on a baking sheet (to help prevent spills, which it did). I used Easter egg dyes AND liquid food coloring AND Kool-Aid to get the blue as dark as possible. 
Easter egg tablets dissolving:
Easter egg dye tablets dissolving

Yarn in the over with the probe thermometer. You can't tell here, but it's floating. While I do know that it's the concentration of dye to yarn and not dye to water that matters, I still used too much.dyeing in the oven using the probe thermometer

 It never fully exhausted. I'll be interested to see whether or not I get blue fingers when I knit with it. 

Then we got to the second-worst part: getting the wet yarn out of a ball and into a hank so it can dry. I don't have a niddy-noddy, which would have been extremely helpful with this aspect. It REALLY sucks trying to wind soaking wet yarn. Period. I ended up improvising and wrapping it around the baking pan I used in the oven. (It was cool, obviously.) I plopped the wet yarn balls into the bathtub (could have just as easily used the sink) so they could roll around without worrying about things getting wet/messy. By the time I was done, my arms were achy, my sweatshirt was, let's say, damp, and my hands hurt from peeling the yarn off the pan. 

getting the wet yarn off the ball. WORST PART.

Winding was the point where I discovered how little the yarn had penetrated. You can tell a little better here.

drying yarn, post dyeing

Over-all, I like the technique. I will probably try it again. I'm really interested to see how it will knit up! (It's going to be socks for my grandma.) I think there is definitely a learning curve. I'm not an expert dyer, so it is always an adventure. I think this could be done really easily in a crock pot. 

If you want a couple more tutorials one dyeing with food colors and the basics, I recommend these two: 
http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall02/FEATdyedwool.html is mostly about Kool-Aid dyeing. 

http://knitty.com/ISSUEspring07/FEATdyeyourown.html is fantastic and written by the lovely and talented SamuraiKnitter. I have this article printed out and have referred to it quite a bit in my dyeing experiments. 

There is also http://www.dyeyouryarn.com/index.html which is interesting. I haven't fully explored their site to the extent I'd like to be able to really endorse it, but it definitely seems helpful. 

I can't wait to update you with how it knit up! 

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing what you make with them! I'm jealous of your sweater and sock making skills.