On Thursday my package from Knit Picks came and I squealed when I saw it. I am not a squealer. A cute puppy or something might elicit one once in a while, but it is rare that a sound like that escapes my lips. My boyfriend laughed sort of nervously and walked the other direction while I ripped the package open with glee. I ordered a few colors of dye and three skeins of bare superwash yarn–a skein of sport, one of fingering and one of bulky. I have been watching Skein Yarn’s really great video podcast and she has done a few dye tutorials and since I saw the first one, I’ve really wanted to get my paws on some white yarn and some dye. And I did!
In my mind, I already thought of myself as a prolific hand dyer who could sell skeins of yarn immediately, quit my job, and live in my yarn empire forevermore. Turns out I have a great imagination.
I dyed up the sport weight skein and had a blast but it turns out that learning to dye yarn, like learning literally everything else in the world, takes practice. Who knew. I had a lovely yellow base with some orangey overtones in my mind and that is not quite what I got. But I love it anyway!
I’m fairly certain I didn’t poison myself or my dog in the process but only time will tell. Here’s the jist of how it went down…
I put some ties in the yarn so they didn’t get tangled and soaked it in wool wash for about 30 minutes. I really like the way yarn in water looks. Like spaghetti but way better.
Then I donned the proper armor.
I used Jacquard acid dye, and bought the colors Yellow Sun, Emerald, Sapphire Blue, Silver Grey, Fire Red and Chartreuse. I used the yellow as the first color I dyed with, and decided I would mix the red and the yellow together to get orange, and mix that dye in as the second color. This is where things went slightly ary…I read the dye container and it said that the whole thing would dye 2 lbs of yarn. It also says how much dye is in the container, and my skein of yarn had a weight measurement on it as well. So with some simple math I could have easily figured out how much dye to use to make sure I had the right amount for one skein of yarn. But what do I say when Math looks me in the face? “NOT TODAY!”
I think the technical term for what I did was called “winging it”. I added about 1/8 of a teaspoon of yellow dye to maybe 1.5-2 gallons of water. I mixed up what what supposed to be orange with equal parts yellow and red. I added water to each of them to dissolve and this is what I got:
The yellow looks nice and yellow. The orange looks red. Super red. Maybe I should have looked at that as an obvious sign that the yarn would be red but no. I proceeded, throwing caution to the wind, where it should stay most of the time. Also, I should probably not use that mug for coffee anymore. Whoops.
I heated up the water and added some vinegar and the yellow dye, then plopped the damp yarn in. And it looked great!
As I left it there I watched it mostly absorb the dye, but when I dipped my mug into the water to see if it was clear it was not…after a while…which I assume means I used too much dye. So the only natural thing to do was to add more!
This is where the yarn was supposed to turn orangey yellow. It was definitely red. And there was definitely too much dye. But I had a trick up my sleeve….
Stick a pair of old gym shorts in there to suck up the rest of the dye! Genius! Not really. I knew that being cotton shorts, they wouldn’t absorb much dye but I did it anyway. Because I am like that. They are still ugly grey shorts, but with a tinge of pink now. Oh well. So I added more dye! I put some extra yellow on top, but not a whole lot. And it got slightly more yellow in color, but not much. That’s not to say I don’t like this color, I really do actually. I am just stubborn.
Don’t mind my ghetto lawn. It’s hot and dry here. And watering grass just to mow it later seems absurd to me. Anyway, I let it sit until the water cooled down, then gave it one more bath (where a lot of the extra dye bled out) and hung it up to dry! It has been stupidly hot here this week so it didn’t take long, and I had a beautiful, dry skein of yarn in about 2 hours! It turned out to be a kind of persimmon like color. I actually really love it, and some of the yellow even peeks through. Not my original intention, but I was humbled a bit by the dye gods. Now I am debating colors for the other two skeins….