How did I do that?

Textile Shed asked me how I dyed that yarn. By the seat of my pants is the short answer!  For a longer answer, read on.

First I washed the yarn – this is natural wool yarn from the giant cone that has been stored for a long time here, and who knows how long at Nancy’s. It has been wound tight for that long as well, so benefits from a gentle wash in cold water with some mild detergent.  I used about three ounces of yarn in each skein.

Nancy yarn cone

Once it was washed and fulled up some, I soaked it in cold water with a generous chug from the vinegar bottle (all measurements will be equally scientific.)

While it was soaking I put about 6-8 cups of water in my dye crock pot (never used for food) and let it heat up.

After about half an hour, I put a couple of chugs of liquid RIT dye in the crock pot.  I did NOT stir much as I wanted some variation in the yarn.  The first one I did was the teal, and I used more dye than I needed, as it turned out.  So the next one, I used less (the aquamarine) and the third, even less ( aquamarine over-dyed with royal blue).

I drained the water from the yarn, but did not worry too much about getting all the vinegar water out, then I put the yarn into the crock pot (not stirring or worrying if colored water was over it all.  I added water if needed, again not stirring, put the lid back and came back in half an hour.  I pulled out the yarn, judged whether or not I liked the color, put it back in.  They take at least an hour, the teal was a bit longer, I think.

Once I liked the color, I put it in the sink to drain and rinsed it with increasing colder water ( to bring the tem of the yarn down gradually) until I was rinsing in very cold water.  I did this until it was running clear, and I put vinegar in the last rinse, just to be safe.  Then I hung the skein to dry.


When I did the aquamarine, I had a second skein soaked and ready to go in the pt, so it used up the rest of the ye in the water – but when it did, the yarn was paler than I wanted.  so I put a glug of the royal blue in the same water and left the yarn in there fro another half an hour. I can see places where the aquamarine and even natural color show through – so I got the variegated I was looking for, but maybe more blue than I expected.

I still have plenty of the dye left in the bottles, I think I could do each color three or four more times with what I have, so I will do more experimenting with it.  I also have a box of the powdered dye in fuchsia (if you recall what started this whole thing it was trying to dye yarn with beets to get that glorious color, but getting reddish brown.  Which I would have known if I had explored the internet.) Anyway – I have not felt like dealing with mixing that up into a liquid yet. The other colors I bought the liquid dye already prepped. I used teal, aquamarine and royal blue dyes.

I am not a big lover of chemicals, but just could not resist all those glorious colors at the hardware store.  🙂  And it seems to be easy to do.


15 thoughts on “How did I do that?”

  1. Dying yarn and fabric is something I don’t want to do. I dyed handkerchiefs in the past, and sewed them together to make a bedspread, but not something I want to do again. I applaud you for all the work. Your yarns turned out beautiful! I love the blue with the teal showing through. So pretty! Great job!

    1. your bedspread sounds pretty! I like messing about with the colors, and someday, hope to be able to decide on a color and make it for a specific project. For now, I mess about, then decide what to make with the results. 🙂

  2. Very scientific. I loved your description. The main point you make is don’t be faint of heart, just go for it.

    1. Exactly! if it fails, as the beet thing did, it is not the end of the world. I knit up a shawlette out of the orangey pink color and I will send it off to Nest Maine, which is always looking for warm things. Maybe someone there loves orangey pink. It is all good.

  3. Love your colours. You dye extremely well. I use Kool-aid, and it is lots of fun. As soon as I have summer weather again, I should look for a big natural cone like that and follow your example and make better use of it. Gorgeous. 🙂

      1. Indeed. I have also not found kool aid in blue that really does a deep blue. 🙂 I shall try other dyes to see how I do with them. I am still very much learning, and having loads of fun in the process.

  4. Your yarn looks great–it makes me want to try this! Plus, I like the fact that the dyeing can be sort of haphazard in terms of following the directions and still turn out looking so good!

  5. Oh you wonderful person. Many many thanks for your detailed description of dying yarns , pretty yarns!. I think I can do that, in my old crockpot. Your results do look very organic and natural, wonderful shades! And to my surprise, despite all that science, there is a bit of room for spontaneity and good fortune.

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