Friday, February 10, 2006

First Hand Dyes

In other news, my very first hand-dyes:

I used KnitPicks Dye Your Own sock-weight merino. It's not a wildly good quality yarn, but it's perfectly decent. I was underrconfident of the colors, and made them all bolder than I meant to (particularly the green in the blue/green colorway), but I still like how they turned out.

The method was based on the multiple-jars-in-one-pot-of-water method fromDianna's tutorial (which also inspired the red colorway) and used the stripe length math from Eunny's. I used water-to-vinegar-to-kool-aid ratios from Barbara's tutorial.

In short, here's what I did:

- estimate how long I wanted each striped section to be, and how long the full cycle of color repeats would be
- wind a skein as long as the full cycle (this is LONG. I did it in a huge rhombus around four chairs)
- tie off the skein to mark where the colors change
- soak the huge skein in a vinegar and hot water solution for half an hour or so
- mix 6 oz water, 2 oz vinegar and 1 packet of kool-aid (the sugar-free kind) in a large jar and mix very well. Repeat for all colors. Add more dye mixture, in these proportions, if desired
- place the jars in a large pot, in a bath of cold water several inches deep
- place each section of the yarn in the appropriate jar. Add enough water to cover the yarn well, and give it a very gentle, but thorough, stirring to mix.
- turn on the heat under the pot (I did it on medium), and bring the water in the pot (but not the dye in the jars) to a simmer. Stir the yarn very occasionally, to make sure the dye circulates
- it's done when all the dye has been sucked up into the yarn. The liquid in the jars will either turn milky or clear. The picture below is ALMOST ready (and has a cool steam effect):

- Let the yarn cool (or put on a sturdy oven mitt) and dump the yarn carefully into your (clean and bleach-free) sink. Let it sit for a minute.

- Gently wash and hang to dry as usual. (I used cold water and Eucalan)
- wind into a ball or skein. I think self-stripeys look particularly adorable on a skein. Plus, it will entertain your cat no end.

- make your color change markers nice and obvious. Once your yarn gets wet, it's harder to guess
- choose jars with plenty of room. I used a 26 oz jar for about a 1.5oz section of the skein, and it was a bit too small.
- choose jars of approximately the same height. Otherwise, the dye from the taller jar will travel down the yarn and mix into the lower one. If you're stuck with different heights (as I was), allow the yarn to dip down below the lip of the lower of the two.
- use rubber gloves when handling the Kool-Aid powder and mixed dye
- artificially-sweetened drink mixes like Crystal Light work just fine
- the yarn is going to absorb all the dye in the water, so the actual dilution doesn't matter, but the total amount of dye does. Add as much water as you need to cover the yarn, but make sure you mix it well.
- if you take the yarn out of the jars before it's milky/clear, it might bleed onto the other colors


Red colorway:
Largest section, appx. 2 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Cherry, 1/2 packet of Grape (dark red)
Med section, appx 1 oz of yarn: 2 packets of Wyler's Strawberry-Kiwi and 1/2 packet of tropical punch (coral)
Med section, appx 1 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Lemonade (yellow)

If I make this again, I'll include more Cherry and less Grape in the dark red, omit the tropical punch from the coral (for more of a peachy pink), and maybe use 2-2.5 packets of Lemonade.

Blue/Green colorway:
Largest section, appx 2oz of yarn: 3 packets of Ice Blue Raspberry (turquoise)
Small section, appx 2/3 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Watermelon Kiwi (green)
Small section, appx 2/3 oz of yarn: 2 packets of Wyler's Strawberry-Kiwi and 1/2 packet tropical punch (coral)
Small section, appx 2/3 oz of yarn: 3 packets of Lemonade (yellow)

If I make this again, I'll use 2 packets of Watermelon Kiwi for a green that's more lime than grass, and omit the tropical punch from the coral, for more of a peachy pink.


Blogger FemiKnitMafia said...

OMG, they look great! Congrats!

9:39 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...


11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! Beautiful colorways, really nice. The sprog and I are dying some corriedale roving this weekend using the koolaide method.

Mmmm, wet sheep and fruity goodness.

Well done on the hand dyes, I can't wait to see it knitted up!


5:15 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

Actually, they're for gifts, so you may not see them knitted up. I'll probably do a run of both colorways for myself after the knitting olympics. It's really fun and inexpensive, and I'd like to refine the recipes.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Tiffany Teabag said...

I love those colorways, how fun!

2:06 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

i LOVE those colorways! i think the more vivid, the better. and i love your how-to shots. they look like mad scientist photos, except with prego jars! bravo!

12:21 AM  
Blogger christine said...

wow, that is sooooo awesome. i *love* the bright green! that's my fav :) how long did this all take, from start to finish? perhaps we should have a kool-aid dying party one day? (we always relish the thought of a yarn-related party sometime in the future...) i think i would be really scared doing it on my own, but with others that would let me know that i'm actually dying my skirt instead of my yarn, that would be helpful. :)

12:35 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Hi Christine. I didn't time the process, but here's an estimate:

1 hr: winding yarn into huge-diameter skein and marking off the color changes. (Maybe others would do this faster than I did.)

30 minutes: soaking yarn in water/vinegar mixture, mixing kool-aid solutions in the meantime

5 minutes: putting skein sections into their dye baths, topping up, stirring, etc.

30 minutes: simmering while dye is absorbed

15 minutes: draining, eucalan soak

overnight: drying

1 hr: reskeining (might go much faster with a niddy-noddy)

The skeining up and back is by far the most time-intensive part of the process. The good news is that the rest is pretty quick, and you can soak one batch while the previous one is simmering, and put it in its dye bath while the previous one is in its Eucalan soak.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

Gee, that's some pretty yarn. It really looks familiar...

1:13 PM  

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