My other ramblings

Branching Out-Yarn Dyeing

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 Β£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. 

The yarn kitchen set up

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!)

Ready to dye

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…

Suspicious looking 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!

A sunbathing skein

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. 

A different kind of birthday cake!

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!

70 thoughts on “Branching Out-Yarn Dyeing

    1. Thank you, I think that’s the thing about hand dyeing, it’s all unique. I’m sure it must take a lot of skill to make several the same though! I’m thinking of a knitting rather than crochet project but that’s as far as I’ve got. 100g is enough for socks, or maybe a small scarf/shawl. I’ll treasure it to just look at whilst I decide!

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      1. The allotment committee would be having kittens if we tried it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ (but it seems I’m on the committee now so maybe I could get them to write some new rules!) πŸ‘πŸ‘

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      2. Ha ha ha! I just threw llamas out there totally by chance! You beat me but I do expect to see something craft AND llama related!😁😸😁

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate the process more now and what dyers actually do to get their end result. I’ve no idea what I’ll do with it apart from look at it, I do think the colours are pretty. It might make a nice scarf, shawl of cowl. I wrote down the amounts of dye etc so if I got the same yarn I could reproduce the amounts of colours, it’d still be random though.

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    1. I like the idea of organic dyes, and I’ve read quite a bit about them. I think they’re something I’ll try out too, but maybe with mini skeins too. I’ve seen solar dyeing and that looks really good too, using plants/flowers.

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  1. Those colors are beautiful! I laughed about Mr. C not being impressed with the smell. Sounds like Chicken Grandad when I make salsa!
    Just wondering ….. do you spin your own yarn also? I always think that sounds like a relaxing thing to do if I could get the coordination down.

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      1. I haven’t processed any fibre, but I tried carding at a national trust property and it was quite hard. I bought a braid of dyed fibre that I just predrafted for spinning. I must do some more as I have a spindle full but nothing to ply it with.

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  2. I’ve dyed fabric but being new to crochet, haven’t tried it yet. I do have whole drawer full of fabric dye though, I wonder if it would work?! The last time it was used was by my cat who decided her white fur needed to be hot pink. Maybe I’ll hold off a little longer, lol! Yours looks amazing though and you make it look easy. I’m just glad I can’t smell the process through your site πŸ˜‰.

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    1. Thank you. Sadly no tips apart from leaving it and coming back after a break if you think you’ve reached snipping point with it! I have seen swifts used well, although I don’t own one. I considered putting the skein stretched over my clothes airer to keep the two sides separate, that may be worth a try. 😊


  3. Wow what great results you achieved. I love the colours and cannot wait to see what you will make with it.
    I tried, natural products (flowers, veg etc) on embroidery floss many years ago. Unfortunately most of the things I tried, looked lovely until they dried and then just seemed to turn an unappealing brown colour. I kept it for years, it took me so long to make, but then it ended up in the bin, as I knew all along it would never be used.

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    1. Thank you, I like the idea of natural dyes but I really wanted the vibrant colours the food dyes produce. I quite fancy trying natural ones, but it’s a shame they fade. I bet beetroot works well!


      1. Ooh that might take some choosing -I ‘d always for go for a teddy bear or toy of some kind, although a hat might fit the bill , is going to turn chilly next week !

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    1. Thank you, they were happy enough with their spaghetti but I could always colour some myself for them, maybe! (Let’s not mention the hyperactivity warnings on the pots of colouring…)


  4. This looks excellent and like the wool you buy in the shops.. So well done Mrs C…. you should give yourself a pat on the back.. and no I have never tried dying wool.. I have tie dyed T-shirts before.. and Jeans.. lol especially in the 70’s πŸ™‚ But this is beautifully done for your first attempt

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      1. Big smiles yes they did the rounds again.. I was a young teen in the flower power days.. πŸ™‚ And I remember tie dying with my mum in the copper boiler πŸ™‚ Loads of things all at once.. Purple was the rage then πŸ˜‰

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  5. So beautiful! I am now tying to convince boyfriend and my best friend that we should try this during the summer.
    Do you have any specific videos that you watched?

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