Friday, February 10, 2012

Hand Dyeing Yarn

Hello friends,
Recently I have been experimenting with hand dyeing yarn. It's lots of fun, you should try it too! :-)
I have been using food dye, yep that's right, just regular old food dye.
I had tried yarn dyeing with food dye several years ago, with varying results, from kind of nice to hideous. Then I found this tutorial on Youtube and it was a much better method than I had previously been using.
I had been seeing lots of gradient dyed yarn around and wondered how folks were doing it... then suddenly it came to me! So this is what I came up with. (I'll add my tutorial of how I did the gradient dyeing soon :-)

So, it's a self striping yarn, in graduating rainbow colours :-) I have no idea what I'm going to knit or crochet with it yet, but I'm sure I'll be able to find something :-)
The yarn is a wool/angora/bamboo/nylon mix that I had hanging around in my stash. I was surprised how well the yarn picked up the dye, because of the bamboo & nylon content. The yarn is mainly wool & angora though, and through all of my dyeing experiments I know that animal fibres pick up the food dyes really well & plant fibres and synthetic fibres do not pick up the food dyes at all (well maybe a teensy bit, but nothing worth the effort :-)
Below is an image of what the yarn looked like before I wound it into a ball with my nostepinne. I know, I know, it looks all scary and knotty... but it wasn't (phew!) However, after hand winding approx 1km of yarn after my dyeing experiments I ordered an umbrella swift and yarn winder online (yippee!)
Also, I just wanted to add that a few people have been concerned that the food dyes are not colour fast and will just wash out, or bleed unpleasantly, but the vinegar and heat help to fix the dyes. I have also tested the food dyed yarns for colour fastness and they have all held up really well, even after washing in the machine and/or soaking :-)
Just in case you were wondering, for the colours in this particular yarn I used Queens food dye that I got in the baking section of the supermarket, except for the violet colour, which is a gel food colour from Spotlight, but it's also available at specialty cake decorating shops :-) Also, here's a tip, you can't use the "natural" food dyes from Queens... the colours are made using plant extracts, and while they are excellent to use when you're actually dyeing food, they don't work for dyeing yarn :-)

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