Monday, July 4, 2011

Dyeing with Food Coloring

Yesterday I decided to experiment with dyeing yarn. I went out and bought a 223 yard ball of Patons Classic Wool at my local Michaels, then scoured the grocery store for food coloring and Kool Aid. I didn't know, at first, which method I wanted to try. I ended up trying the hot pour method, since there were several helpful youtube videos by with great instructions on how to dye your yarn.

So basically, here's what I did.
1) Wind ball into hank
2) Put yarn in pot
3) Add dyestuffs
4) Wait.....wait....wait some more

I often use these chairs to wind my hanks into balls. The reverse process was kind of weird to me.
Super messy skein on account of first time ever, and not knowing how to tie it off.

Gather the materials
For this experiment I used:
White Vinegar
Regular ol' food coloring
Wool yarn

The vinegr is there to help the yarn absorb the dye, in case you were wondering. Which, honestly, you probably weren't because we've all dyed Easter eggs right? Funny smell. I was concerned it would stick to the yarn, but I think I'm in the clear.

So then I put the yarn in the pot (no presoak since I was planning a kind of kettle-dye thing) and pretended I was makin' spaghetti!
No stirring!
I paid no attention to how much water or vineger I used. I think it ended up being about 8 cups of water and I just put a glug or two of vineger. I let the water come to a boil then turned it off and added the dye.
I mixed the purple and pink dye together (way more pink than purple) and put that in one part of the skein and then threw some red and blue in various spots.
Then I just let it do it's thing.
I waited 20 or 30 minutes before checking on it again- no stirring because I didn't want the colors to mix around that much and also I was using 100% wool. The water was still hot, but the dye was mostly gone, so I washed it out and took a look.
Hmm....Lotsa white spots.
I tried to ignore the fact that it wasn't an amazing result. I took it outside to dry.
After considering the color for about 13 seconds, I decided I couldn't live with it and couldn't knit with it. So I took that bad boy back indoors and popped him back in the pot.
Overdyed with a bit of blue and purple- more waiting for the pot to boil, waiting for the dye to take, waiting for the pot to cool, waiting for the yarn to dry.

As I waited for the yarn to dye, I discovered a pleasant surprise in our backyard:

This discovery led to another, more satisfying dyeing experiment.



This experiment was much more satisfying because the ice cream turned purple, which was my intended color choice. Also, being ice cream it was a better-tasting experiment. Did I mention there are blackberries in the ice cream? ^_^ yum!

So then this morning I awoke to a nice dry skein of yarn, which I immediately balled up and cast on (what other projects?)

The pattern is Stephanie Peal Mc Phee's "One row handspun scarf" which can be found in her blog archives, here.
The pattern really shows off the colors, and I'm actually kind of worried because I know I'll never be able to replicate that particular color scheme. It's kind of a bubble gum-cotton candy-fairy tale color that I am already in love with. Expect more dyeing experiments to folow: I might be hooked.
Happy knitting!

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