It’s been a long time since I wrote a branching out post, partly because I haven’t tried anything new for a while! Way back in September when we went to Yarndale, I bought some undyed Merino yarn with the intention of trying out dyeing it myself.
Over the last few months, I’ve read blogs about dyeing and watched YouTube videos but never really had a good chunk of time that I could devote to it uninterrupted. Until now, when the children have been at school/preschool and I haven’t. I’d already ordered the ‘kit’, I got some pipettes from eBay, bought white vinegar and had some Wilton food colourings in the baking cupboard.
I will confess to feeling really quite nervous as I plunged my skein of yarn (which cost the best part of £10) into the vinegar and water solution. I had to just tell myself that all hand dyed yarn is unique and therefore into didn’t really matter what it looked like! A fellow yarn addict, who I met at a party, had informed me that the purple Wilton dye doesn’t work well on yarn so I mixed up a solution each of pink, green and blue. After a good few hours soaking, it was time to lay it out on the cling film and start adding the colour. I was aiming for a speckled look rather than dyeing it fully, and I watched several more YouTube videos whilst I was waiting for the yarn to be ready.
I took a deep breath and just started dropping colours on to the yarn, starting with pink, then green and then blue. I worked in a fairly random fashion, then mixed up more solution for the other side of the yarn. (I wasn’t sure how much would be needed and the lady on the video had made too much so I erred on the side of caution. Luckily I’d measured the water so it wasn’t hard to make it up again!)
Once I’d used every drop of dye solution, I wrapped the whole thing up in cling film and microwaved it. As our microwave is really powerful, I stopped it every minute to check it hadn’t popped and that the yarn was still covered. It was during this 10 minutes that Mr C came home and was distinctly unimpressed with the vinegar/sheep smell pervading through the house. I swiftly opened all of the windows and, when it was time, left the yarn to cool outside on the barbecue! (It’s in quite a nice part of the garden, under the budding clematis.) At this point the children asked if I was making spaghetti…
Once it had cooled, I made up a cool water solution of baby shampoo and gently washed the yarn. I was really careful to make sure it was all at the same temperature-having got this far I didn’t want to felt it now! I then hung it to dry on the airing rack and left it overnight. At this point it was very pleasing to see that the pink and blue had mixed in places to give me my coveted purple!
The next day I tackled turning the skein into a ball, a fairly new experience for me and also a fairly challenging one. My parents in law’s dog looked bemused as I was taking care of him and battling a big pile of yarn spaghetti. I managed to wind it all (nearly 300m) without having to snip a knot out even once.
Finally I had a cake of my very own hand dyed yarn, and because the colours were reminiscent of my daughter’s birthday cake I decided that it should be called ‘Birthday Cake’. (Funny that, since I used the same food colouring!)
I will definitely be adding yarn dyeing to my ‘try it again’ list, and now I need a lovely project to make with it! Next time, though, I might take the microwave into the garden, as it took a while to get rid of the smell. (Lemon and water in the microwave works a treat!)
Have you ever tried yarn dyeing? How did it go? Let me know!