To Dye For (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

How’s that for a pun? I had my first adventure in Dye-land this weekend, thanks to an article in knitty that I read last week. I’ve seen similar articles, but this was the first one that described a dye method using food coloring – which I already had in the house. Since I didn’t have to go out and buy anything, AND I conveniently had some brand new (handspun) white yarn to use, I decided it was time to give in and try it.

I put two skeins (about 80 yds each) in my crock pot last night with 1 cup of vinegar and about 8 cups of water, and let it soak overnight. (according to the article, including vinegar in the overnight soak helps the yarn pick up the color better.)


Then I mixed up some green, blue, and yellow dye – 1/2 cup of water and 4 drops of food coloring. (In retrospect, I would have tried using more food coloring to make a more vibrant dye.) The article warned that there will be a lot of color mixing, and I figured these would at least be complimentary if they mixed. I tried to use only as much water as it took to cover the two skeins when I put in the dye to minimize mixing, but with how much dye I used (and how much water was in the dye mix) I could have used a lot less water to start with.


Then I let it all sit for about an hour until the dye was exhausted and the water was clear, and I had this:


I left the yarn soup to cool while I was at work today, and when i came home I rinsed it and spun out most of the water in the spin cycle of the washer (I LOVE this so much…I don’t know how I ever tolerated squeezing water out by hand) and now the skeins are hanging to dry:


The skeins don’t appear to have as much color variation in real life – they go from bluish green to yellowish green…but I like it! It is very appropriate for St. Patty’s day. I think it’ll make a great skinny light springtime lace scarf (leaf pattern anyone?). I only have 160 yards so I can’t do anything too crazy, but perhaps I should make this a truly original project and design a simple lace pattern for the scarf. Hmmm….

My creativity is sapped. I’ll think about it later.

So all in all? Dyeing is fun. I’d do it again. I want to get some longer skeins (might need a bigger bobbin for the wheel) so I can make some 200 yard handpainted skeins (perhaps with the cold pour method in the same article) for socks. Oh yeah – and my handspun yarn looks so much more like real (aka store bought) yarn after washing and setting. Sweet!

3 responses to “To Dye For (Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

  1. Go Lisa, Go Lisa! The yarn looks fabu! Now I really will have to get some Kool Aide and go for it! Although there’s no way I can compete with your gorgeous hand spun yarn!


  2. Hi Lisa,

    I think this makes you a knitting, spiining, dyeing machine, 🙂 Great job at all of it, too!! Hope to see you tomorrow night at Knit Night.

    Dianne R.

  3. I want to try dyeing, but I’m afraid that it’s going to be really, really messy. So, I’m waiting for the summer.

    The skeins came out pretty.

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