Sunday, 26 July 2009

Yarn Dyeing

So I thought I'd do a post showing the stages of my dyeing. Not one to do things by halves, I dyed a kilo of yarn yesterday evening in my small-ish kitchen with a toddler occasionally interrupting!

First step was to plan out what yarn I would dye. I decided that to save me having labels everywhere I would only use BFL and do the organic merino another day. So I worked out how much I could dye with 3 stock pots and a couple of microwave tubs and planned the colours & dyes. This resulted in me having 300g Aran, 200g DK and 100g Sock yarn to soak for procion dyeing as well as 200g Sock and 200g DK yarn for Kool Aid dyeing.

The yarn for Kool Aid dyeing needs to soak in water for about an hour. I always use lukewarm water. The yarn for procion dyeing I soaked in lukewarm water with 25g salt and 100ml of vinegar added per 100g of yarn. To keep things organised I used the balck buckets for the procion soaking and grey washing up bowls (kept for dyeing!) for the kool aid stuff.

While the yarn was soaking we were treated to some Baby Ballet

Then the dyeing started.

The stock pots were roughly half filled with lukewarm water and sat on the hob waiting for the dyes & yarn.

First up was some sock yarn being procion dyed. So I started by adding some pink dye to the water then adding the yarn and heating the pan until just below the boil (i.e. water shouldn't be bubbling). As it was 'cooking' I sprinkled more dye powder at roughly 5 minute intervals to create darker patches on the yarn.

I did a similar thing with the sock yarn being dyed with Kool Aid. I started with a couple of packs of lemonade in the stock pot to create a pale yellow base colour. I added the 2 skeins of sock yarn so that each was laying in one half of the stock pot. I made up a packet of Orange Kool Aid by adding 250ml of lukewarm water and poured it into the centre of the stock pot about 5 mins after the water had heated up. About 5 mins later I made up a packet of Mango and poured this in a circle around the edge of the stock pot.

In the third stock pot I dip dyed some BFL DK using Grape Kool Aid. I started off with one packet dissolved in the stock pot. and hung one end of the skein over a wooden spoon. Every 5 minutes or so I lifted a bit more out of the dye bath and added an extra packet of Kool Aid (made up with water) to the dye bath. This did take some balancing of wooden spoons!

For all of these I then keep the yarn just below bubbling for about 30 minutes to set the dyes in. They are then left overnight to cool.

I then moved on to the dyeing using the microwave to fix the dyes. I started off with Kool Aid dyeing. This is me making up the solutions of Kool Aid.

I didn't photograph the rest of the Kool Aid dyeing as it's pretty much the same as for the procion dyeing!

Here's the made up procion dyes:

I make them up in old drinks bottles as it's easy to mix it by shaking well and easy to squirt it onto the yarn where you want it. As you can see I've already put 2 strips of cling film over the kitchen table ready for the yarn.

I lift the yarn out of the bucket and squeeze gently to remove the excess water. The yarn should be wet but not dripping everywhere! I then lay it out on the cling film.

I then squirt the dye where I want it on the yarn.

I do each colour in turn and take care at the ends of the skeins to make sure all the ayrn is covered with dye. As I pull the cling film over the yarn I gently press the dye into the fibres to make sure they're all covered. I tend to do this through the cling film just so my gloves don't get covered in dye as I can guarantee I won't have got some water ready to wash them!

Once the yarn is wrapped in cling film I put the whole lot in a microwavable tub. This goes in the microwave for about 5 minutes though I try to check on it every minute or so. The yarn should get hot & steamy but shouldn't dry out.

Again this is then left overnight to cool. If I run out of tubs I do tend to tip the hot one onto a tub lid and use the tub again for the next lot of yarn.

In the morning when it's all cooled, I rinse it in lukewarm water and then hang to dry. I'm always impressed & amazed that there's no colour left in the dye baths (the dye has been exhausted).

Typical British weather though; it was gorgeous and hot yesterday when I started the dyeing but today when I want to dry my yarn it's raining! So onto the airer it is!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Longies & hand dyed yarn

Well first off a big thank you to my mum who knit some longies from the hand dyed yarn in my previous post. I'm sure the new baby (due August!) will look gorgeous in them.

I'm really pleased with how the yarn has knit up. It looks a lot more rose coloured in real life!

I did a huge lot of yarn dyeing on Sunday. Of course the weather decided to go from hot, hot, hot to dull & wet as soon as I needed to dry the yarn! Got it dry eventually though.

Some of the colours were unexpected and some were experimental.

One skein was dyed for the dye-along competition on Ravelry's I'd Dye For Britain Group using procion dyes. I made standard strengths of royal blue and scarlet red. Then I mixed from these to get three solutions as follows:
1) 1 part red, 3 parts blue
2) 2 parts red, 2 parts blue
3) 3 parts red, 1 part blue

Then I put the first solution over one end of the skein, the third solution over the other end and the second solution over the middle sections. This resulted in the following:

Here it is reskeined:

Reskeining makes such a difference to the colours and I've gone from looking at a yarn thinking "Not sure about those colours" to going "Wow, that's the sort of colour yarn I'd buy" just by reskeining. So, here's some of the yarn I've reskeined: