Monday, March 1, 2010

Dyeing Yarn on the Stove Top ~ Join Me and Follow Along! ~ Part II

Hello, I'm back. Sorry I took so long. It wouldn't be a typical day around here if I didn't find myself juggling activities.

When I left off, we had the yarn measured and soaking in a bowl. Now, time to figure out how much dye to use. With Landscapes Dyes you can dye approximately 3oz with 10 grams. My hank of yarn is 8oz, but the color Pacific has a lot of turquoise in it. Turquoise dye is typically a powerful hue so I basically took my best educated guess and went with 18 grams. That may seem like not enough, but in my mind, I was erring on the side of too much. I want a good, medium saturation. If I have leftover dye in my post, I can always save it for a couple ounces of roving, but it would be more work to make the yarn darker.

So downstairs I go with my 18 grams of Pacific dye. My bowl of soaking yarn is waiting for me along with my 5 gallon pot and a measuring cup. I fill the pot with room temperature water. I want to bring the heat up after my yarn has been introduced. I don't want to shock wool yarn with extreme temperatures. That's a great way to get wool felt!

I then pour my dye powder into my measuring cup. This I mix with a cup or so of hot tap water. I want to stir until the powder is dissolved and there are no little lumps of dye left. Then I pour my dye mixture into my pot. I stir some more to make sure the color is well incorporated. I've started warming up my pot on just a little hotter that medium heat. There's a lot of water in there so it won't heat up on me too quickly.

Now I take my yarn and squeeze out all of the water I can. Into the pot it goes. You may notice, I haven't added any vinegar or mordants of any kind. That is because Landscapes Dyes don't require it. The acid has been integrated with the dye powder. You can, however, add some white vinegar if you feel your fiber needs a little help. Those last two pictures up above show the yarn right after it went into the pot. You can see that it immediately starts to take the color. The spoon of dye water shows how much color is left in the pot. This yarn has a long way to go!

So now I just let the yarn steep. I stir occasionally, but not too much. Once again, I'm not interested in making felt here. When the water starts to steam I begin to lower my heat. I want to maintain that steam, but not get any hotter. I've read dye instructions where they talk about getting the water to just below boiling. I don't think you need to get it quite that hot. I like to be a little more gentle with my fiber.

After about 45 minutes, my spoon comes up clear. There is no dye left in the water. The yarn has taken all the color. This is exactly what you want to see and it's making me feel good about how much dye I chose. I pour the contents of my pot out over a strainer. Using the hottest tap water to match the heat of the yarn, I give it a rinse. Then I shake the strainer to get out most of the water. To get my yarn even more dry, I roll it up in a dry towel and give it a good squeeze.

Finally, I take my freshly dyed yarn outside to dry. I lay it out of a fresh towel. My cotton ties have kept my hank in good shape. I'm very happy with the depth of color and how even the yarn turned out. Now I just have to wait for it to dry, then I'll wind it into a center pull ball and send it off to my mom. I'll come back with one last picture of the yarn after it's fully dry. Thanks for joining me on my project today. I hope it makes you feel like you can dye yarn too!


Kristen said...

Hi there :)
I was looking for a leaf pattern which I found on your blog. Thank you :) Now I have seen your dyeing tutorial and have a few questions for you. My 11 yr old daughter would love to try making her own dyes from flowers/herbs. My question to you is what adjustments would I need to make to any of your instructions if I want to dye cotton yarn/thread as I am not much into using wool as it is too irritable to my skin to wear ? Thanks for any tips you can share with us :)

Jenn said...

Hi Kristen,

Dyeing cellulose fibers like cotton with plant materials is a much different process. I would suggest doing a little reading first. Jenny Dean is the author of "Wild Color" and "Colors from Nature". I think you would find these books very helpful.

I wish you all the best in your dyeing adventures!