Friday, January 14, 2011

FO Friday - Yay!

Yippee!  I love it when I get to play along with FO Friday.  It makes me feel all warm and squishy and accomplished inside.  Awesome. The BIG project I tackled this week is my first yarn dyeing.  Yay, me!  And, lucky for you, I took pictures all the way.  Here's how it all went down...

First, I went out and bought some cheap wool yarn, which seemed like the best choice for experimental work. 

This stuff was super soft and squishy, and maybe not the best choice for dyeing since it's not plied, but who knows?  Not me, that's for sure.

Once I had the yarn, I pulled out all of my wilton food coloring bottles.  Oooh!  Pretty colors.  It was ridiculously hard to choose.
After much deliberation (sometimes known as waffling), I settled on red, and we were off to the races. 

First, I used my super fancy swift to un-skein (de-skein?) the yarn while Mr. Right warmed himself in front of the fire.  (Did I mention that the temperature here for the last few days has been hovering in the single digits? Brrrrrrr)
And it didn't turn out half bad...

After I unwound and tied skein #2 in the same way, I dumped them into the crock pot...
Disclaimer:  I did not actually heat the crock on the stove as pictured, it's just that the lighting is better here.  Promise.  I filled the crock with water and left it in the croco pot to heat up while I mixed up the dye.  Since I was doing 2 skeins, I dissolved about 1 teaspoon of food coloring in 2 cups of water. 
Don't mind the chunks at the bottom, I finished mixing everything up after the photo.  It was pretty, but a little lighter than I wanted.   So I added a bit (maybe 1/4 teaspoon) of purple...
And... it turned black.  Oops.  Ah well.  Might as well carry on.  That's what experimenting is all about, right?  Once the yarn was up to temperature and smelling for all the world like stinky, wet sheep, I poured the dye into the pot. 

I had to remind myself every 30 seconds or so not to stir since I wasn't using superwash wool (Don't be a cheapskate like me -- superwash is a really good idea when you're a beginning dyer).  But I sat on my hands and left it to percolate for an hour.

After an hour, I checked the water, saw that it was still bright red, then freaked out, having realized that I forgot to add the vinegar and convincing myself that surely everything was ruined.  No pictures of the freak out, but I did add the vinegar and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so.

Miraculously, the water was completely clear the next time I checked my yarn soup so I hauled the crock into the laundry room, and using my salad tongs, hung it over the laundry sink to dry.  Like so...
A couple of days later, I had a skein of yarn that looked like this:
And a second one that looked like this:

So now the conundrum... This is TOTALLY not what I had in mind.  The color is closest to the laundry room picture up there, but I was hoping for a slightly more uniform look and a deep, dark red color.  I don't hate it, I don't think, but I'm not sure it's something I'd use.

This is the part where y'all chime in and tell me what to do.  Do I stick it back into the pot?  Do I try again with some other yarn in some other color?  Advice, opinions, random votes and cookies are all welcome. (What?  When are cookies not welcome?)

And once you've solved all my problems, go check out the rest of the FO Friday posts and see what everyone else is up to.  It'll be fun.


  1. Now, I've never actually dyed yarn before, but it looks to me like you need a bit more dye. Why don't you try overdying with koolaid sachets? They are pretty easy to get hold of in the states right? Or, work with the mottled effect you've already got going and hand paint it up a bit. Lay it out on a tray and mix up a really strong solution of the food colouring and paint away...!

    If in doubt, check the ravelry groups. haha!

  2. I have dyed quite a bit of yarn before, using both kool aid and professional dyes.

    To get a uniform colour, I'd recommend doing the following.

    First, make sure to soak your skein for half an hour before dyeing. Just in some cold water with a tiny amount of detergent. Rinse and wring the skein out as much as you can.

    next, fill your crockpot and add your acid and your dye and mix thouroughly. Add your yarn to this COLD mixture and (wearing gloves) work the dye through the yarn - squish the yarn all over, swish it through the water. Spend some time doing this so that the dyebath penetrates the whole skein.

    Only THEN start to apply heat.

    It is much easier to get a consistent dye pattern if you dye small quantities of yarn at a time - however, this of course means that you'll have smaller dyelots.

    Superwash wool will mean you can stir A LITTLE when dyeing. Superwash wool also takes up dye a lot more readily, so is better for more vibrant colours.

  3. I'm glad I read Mimi's comment, that actually gives a lot of good advice for when I try dying myself.

    With regard to yarn as it isn't what you anticipated, is that what is putting you off the colour. I know when something doesn't turn out the way I want it, I hate it. I put in a corner for several months, find it again and wonder why I hated it so much. Maybe you'd be the same. Its just the disappointment making you dislike it. I think the colour is lovely and subtle.

  4. I think the yarn came out quite pretty :P Maybe just hide it from yourself for awhile and then come back to it. Sometimes I have to give myself a little time to get over what I wanted a project to be. I've never actually dyed yarn, but I've been interested in it for awhile. Props to you for giving it a go. I may have to experiment soon myself ;)

  5. I haven't dyed yarn (yet!) but I second Crystal's advice about popping it away and look at it again another time and don't let it deter you from trying again. I think it's a lovely colour and you might be inspired with it later on.

  6. Looks good to me! I'm a huge fan of semi-solid yarns, though. One of the things I really like about hand-dyeing is the unexpected effects.

  7. I'd try overdyeing it, as others have said. I also love that it's not quite solid in color, though. :p

  8. If you don't like what you came up with, you can totally over-dye it (dye it again).

    It will take the color better if you soak it in cold water with white vinegar for 30 minutes before. If I'm using the crock pot, I put it in the white vinegar and cold water in the crock pot for 30 mins as the water warms up (putting it on high, but it will slowly get warm/hot). After the 30-40 minutes, you can add the dye since it should be just as hot as the heated crock pot water. Even if it isn't superwash, I lightly flip the yarn in the crockpot once to make sure all gets the dye. If not, I add more. Hope this helps!

    That all being said, I think your yarn looks good! It's not bright red, but you can always just add more red again.

  9. I can't offer any helpful advice, as I've never dyed yarn (although I'm hoping to do some soon, so I love seeing your process and reading the advice in the comments here...), but I like the way this turned out, and I think if you overdye it, the results will be interesting since it's got a variegated look.

  10. You guys are freaking geniuses. Seriously. You're all SO smart and talented, and so generous with helpful advice. I'm amazed, and super thankful.

    Laura - I'm TOTALLY going to try hand painting some yarn soon. It sounds like too much fun not to give it a go.

    Mimi - Thank you! You're on. I'll follow your directions and report back here. I can only hope it turns out half as lovely as all of your yarn.

    CraftyCripple - Agreed. And thank you. It's not bad, though it is a bit meat-colored. I'm going to give it another go, since this is an experiment and all. :)

    Crystal Allen- Thanks! I recommend it. I'm (clearly) no expert, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

    Countess Ablaze- Thank you. We'll see how it comes out of round 2, then I'll either use it or hide it, depending.

    Leah - Thanks! I love the semi-solid stuff too. I'm not sad that it's not uniform, just not in love with this shade. Sounds like it's easy enough to fix that!

    Word Lily - Yep. I'm on it, and excited to see what comes up out of the water.

    Tami- Thanks for the advice. If I get into trouble, I'll come looking for you!

    Kathleen - Thanks! I know, right? These comments are awesome. Next week - Dyed Again - The Return. :)

  11. It's lovely just the way it is -- I'm a big fan of the "kettle-dyed" look. On the other hand, it's your yarn and over-dyeing is definitely possible. I think that soaking the yarn in the water + vinegar ahead of re-dyeing it will make a big difference in how much dye it can hold.

    I'm still new to dyeing so I look at it as playing with color. Even if I have something in mind, I am still sometimes surprised with what I actually get -- but so far the surprises have been happy ones. (PS - check out the What a Kool Way to Dye and other dyeing groups on Ravelry. The Kool-aid group encompasses the food-safe dyes, wilton, food coloring, koolaid, etc.)

  12. I think it looks great! I happen to like that kettle-dyed color. But if you want a more saturated color, overdyeing is the way to go. You have already received plenty of good advice before I got here, but here is my two cents:
    If evenly saturated color is your goal, It actually is okay to gently shift and flip the yarn around in the dye pot even if it is non-superwash wool. As long as you are not really stirring/agitating it, it shouldn't felt on you. Also, you can mordant the yarn prior to dyeing with other items from the baking aisle like alum and cream of tartar for more even color.
    I'll look forward to seeing more of your dyeing work. Good job!

  13. What a fun post! I think the color looks pretty, and I have no advice to add since I haven't tryed dyeing before.