Experiments in yarn dyeing

Over the weekend, I decided to have some not-quite-knitting, but very colorful fun.

First up were my yarn dyeing experiments. I got a skein of Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool and two skeins of Patons Classic Wool at the store, split the Fishermen’s Wool into two hanks, and prepared to dye.

My main goal was to get a nice semi-solid purple to make a bag using the Endpaper Mitts design, paired with black. I wanted some blue undertones, so I decided to try a couple different methods of dyeing to see what I could get.

Blue and Purple Yarn

If I was going for pastel blue and purple, this would’ve been perfect!

For my first experiment, a skein of Classic Wool, I tried putting purple dye (I always use food coloring, in this case it was a mix of Wiltons gel dyes and concentrated liquid dyes) in the entire pot, putting some blue in one side of the pot and quickly dumping my yarn in. I’d pre-soaked the yarn in warm water and vinegar, and brought the water in the pot up to a gently boil before adding the dye, in order to get the yarn to soak up as much dye as possible as soon as it was put in.

It sort of worked, in that I could see the difference in where the blue dye was, but it turned out to be purple in some spots, and baby blue in others. Not exactly what I was going for.

I ended up *taking out the yarn, adding a bunch of purple dye to the pot, putting the yarn back in, letting it soak up the dye,* repeat between ** ad infinitum.

I was going for a semisolid bright purple, with lighter and darker shades throughout. I had Wiltons violet gel dye and liquid neon purple dye, and alternated between the two. I ended up taking the yarn out after maybe 5 rounds of just-purple dye, and let it cool. After it cooled a bit, I decided it was too slate-colored, and gave it a few more dunks. I wasn’t so sure how I felt about it while it was drying, but after it dried and I twisted it into a hank, I decided it was *perfect* for the bag I want to make. 🙂

purple hank

You can see some of the tonality here, it should make a pretty bag.

My second hank was the other Classic Wool skein. I wanted to try making a blue and purple hank with the color placed so that I could make one of the deliberate pooling scarves on Ravelry. I planned to dye the middle purple, the ends blue, and the in-between a blue-purple.

Dyeing in increments

It all started so well…

purple and blue oops

…until it went oops.

It started off well enough. I folded my skein in half and dipped the center into the purple dye, keeping the water hot but not so hot that I got burned. I figured I’d pull it out, then dip in the blue ends. I realized, though, that it would be difficult to dip the in-between parts, so I dipped more into the purple, thinking I’d dip the ends into blue up into part of the purple, turning it blue-purple.

All was going well, until I dropped half the yarn I was holding. I ended up dunking the entire hank in the blue dye, then in purple to try to even it out. It turned out okay, if a little pastel (but I ran out of blue so couldn’t really change that). I’m still not sure exactly where I stand on it.

bluepurple hank

I don’t know, what do you think?

I decided to try the whole half-and-half pot again for my third skein, which was half the Fisherman’s Wool.

bluegreen hank

You can see some of the tonal right in the pot.

I filled the pot with blue dye, then put green in half, gave the pot a small stir, and dropped in the yarn. This one didn’t work as well as the first attempt; the entire skein turned a blue-green color. I did like the color, though, so I decided to try making it tonal a different way.

Using my tongs, I separated out parts of the yarn and put a single drop of blue or green food coloring into the little “hole” I’d made. The dye soaked right into that section of the yarn, giving it a pretty nice tonality with small areas of slightly darker blue or green. I was pleasantly surprised with the overall result.

bluegreen hank

I like it!

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my fourth skein, as I’d run out of blue dye, and didn’t want another purple. I thought about trying for a dark green yarn, but the last time I tried that I ended up with bright fluorescent neon green.

red and yellow yarn

I used the tongs to keep the yellow out of the dye.

Thinking about turning my dye jobs in for HPKCHC classes, I decided to show some House pride and do a Gryffindor skein. I put about 20 drops of yellow and one drop of red food coloring into the pot, and dipped a little bit of the skein in. The one drop of red was enough to give me a nice, non-Big-Bird yellow.

For the rest of the hank, I put just red dye in the pot, and dipped the bare yarn in. It turned pink. I added more red, it soaked it up, but still wasn’t the red I was going for. I tried adding a tiny bit of black to the red dye in the pot, and the yarn soaked up the red, but left the black in the pot! I just kept adding red dye as it got soaked up.

The yarn ended up more fire-engine-red than scarlet, but it’s not too bad. I may try looking for a dark red food dye and re-dyeing it, but I think I may be okay with it. I’ll have to see how it knits up.

gryff yarn

Gryffindor pride!

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