3KCBWDAY1 – Let’s talk about color!

by Susan Myers on April 23, 2012

Today is the first day of the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week hosted by Eskimimimakes.com.  Each day this week, the participants of this amazing blog week write a post based on the theme of the day.  If you would like to check out what the others are writing about, simply google 3KCBWDAY1, and you will find entry after entry of today’s theme!  Great stuff!

Today’s Theme is Color: Color is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colors you buy and crochet or knit with? Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? 

When it comes to color, I have a tendency to gravitate towards lots of it.  And since I cannot ever seem to choose just one color, I find myself grabbing the varigated yarns and self striping yarns when I want to knit something.  Usually, the brighter the better.  To me, color is such an amazing thing and I simply can’t get too much of it.  Yes, I’m a child of the 60′s, can’t you tell?

And while I do love varigated yarns, I am not a huge fan of pooling.  Pooling is where the colors in the yarn rather than spreading out beautifully as they look on the skein, pool into little clumps in the finished piece.  Sometimes the pooling effect can add to a piece, but sometimes it really doesn’t do the pattern justice.

So when I knit with varigated yarns, I like to pair them with a solid color and do a pattern such as the variation of Fish Market by Andrea Krüß-Anders shown above.

And because I’m a crafty individual, I simply can’t stop at just buying the yarn.  So naturally, it would lead to me want to try my hand at hand-dyeing my own.  I had read that it could be done rather easily using Kool-Aid, food coloring or egg dye. Since I had snapped up a bunch of egg dye after easter at 90% off; egg dye it would be.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

Animal fiber is apparently what you need to use when dyeing with natural ingredients.  If you want to dye anything that is plant fiber such as cotton, you would need to use a much stronger acid dye. I purchased some Bare Superwash Merino Wool from KnitPicks.  It came in a loop tied in two places.

You have many options here.  You could undo the strings and wrap the yarn into a longer loop.  This would create longer areas of each color.  Or you could do what I did and keep it this way.  In either case, be sure to tie it in several more places to keep it from knotting when you work with it.  It is suggested that you use an acrylic yarn for tying as the acrylic will not take the color.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

First, I soaked the yarn in a vinegar/water solution (1 cup vinegar to 2 gallons water) in my sink for about an hour. I weighted it down with a plate to keep the yarn submerged.  Vinegar is used because an acid is needed to bind the color to the yarn.  If you were using Kool Aid, the vinegar would not be necessary as Kool Aid has an acid base.

At this point,  I made up the colors that I wanted. My idea was to go with spring colors. Maybe bright yellow, green and blue. I used two tablets of each color and made them up with vinegar per the directions on the Easter Egg Dye box.

After the yarn was fully saturated, I moved it to my crock pot.  Yep, you can use your kitchen utensils on this project.  Unlike acid dyes, these dyes are safe to work with in your kitchen.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

I added the colors to sections of yarn in the crock pot, being careful to keep the yellow from sinking into the rest of the dye.  I wanted bright yellow, fading to green, fading to a deep blue.  Do not stir.  Put the cover on the crock pot and set the crockpot on high.  Allow the yarn to steam for about an hour.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

You know when it is done when the yarn soaks up all the color and the water is clear.   You won’t believe it, but it will be clear.  Amazing.

Carefully lift your yarn out with tongs and allow it to cool.  Because it is wool, it can felt and we don’t want that.  So don’t mess with it too much until it has cooled.  Once it has cooled, rinse in luke warm water (the same temp as the yarn) and then place between two thirsty towels and press out as much of the water as you can.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

Here I have it drying on my make-shift yarn dryer rack. Ol’ Venus finally came in handy. All this time, she’s been hanging out in my dining room, showing off her nakedness and sponging off of me. Finally, she earns her keep. And if you ask me, she looks pretty darn good in my yarn.

Work it, girl.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

My David statue was jealous, so I let him wear one of my hand knit scarves.

hand dye yarn with Easter egg dye

The final product. A little more on the green side than I wanted, but an awesome first attempt. I can’t wait to see how it knits up.

Another option would be to string your original yarn in a long loop.  After soaking in vinegar and water, lay it out on a table covered in trash bags.  Apply your egg dye with a turkey baster.  Once it is dyed how you like it, add it to the crockpot and steam as above.

This is a nice safe project for the kiddos too.  Remember, Kool Aid or food coloring can be used.  The possibilities are endless.  And best of all, I was finally productive in the kitchen.  Imagine that.

The Sitcom will be participating in the 3rd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week all this week, so stay tuned!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 NancyGrace March 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm

So the dyed yarn is heated while soaking up the dye only…. (CLEAR WATER AT THE END?!? I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE IT!) But is the yarn now COLORFAST or will the end product be relegated to the don’t-wear-it-because-you-can’t-wash-it portion of my wardrobe?

BUT I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR BLOG! I have been enjoying checking out your projects and philosophy and already consider you A FRIEND.

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2 Susan Myers March 18, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Hi Nancy!

Believe it or not, the yarn is colorfast. Because the yarn is wool, it has to be hand washed as delicate. Wool does not take well to being agitated. It felts. I do recommend washing in cold water for anything that has dye in it. Even RIT Dye will fade if not washed properly.

Thank you so much for your kind words! You totally put a smile in my day! If you decide to make anything from my tutorials, I would love to see it! It is very fun to inspire others and see what comes out of it!

suzy

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3 Scrollwork April 24, 2012 at 7:17 am

So far the only thing I’ve mastered dyeing are my roots. Because of this I speculate that the turkey baster method would probably work better for me.

Your dryer rack is more fetching than mine. Which is why I keep mine in the garage.

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4 Dahle April 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Thanks for the dyeing lesson. I bought the yarn, koolaid, and egg dye already but I was not sure how to do it the crock pot way. Thank you!

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5 Gracey April 23, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Great tutorial and perfect yarn! I love the green…and really those statues do need to earn their keep…

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6 CrochetBlogger April 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Beautiful dye work. Pinned!

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7 Meredith Taylor April 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm

love the tutorial! i haven’t tried dyeing yet but will one of these days soon. i love how the color came out and can’t wait to see how it works up!

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8 Jess - Knot By Gran'ma April 23, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I love the colors! They are so bright and vibrant… the photos with the statues are really just too funny. I actually laughed out loud for real. Awesome.

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9 The Knitting Dr April 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Very nice tutorial! I’ve had good results with Kool-Aid although found the colors somewhat limited. Great start to the week of posts with your entry for 3KCBWDAY1. :)

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10 Aimee April 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm

It works with silk yarns and ribbons too. Super fun!

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11 nursenikkiknits April 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Great post! One day I’m going to get up the courage to my hand at dyeing!

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12 Kepanie April 23, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Mahalo for the dyeing lesson. It looks so fun. I want to have a go at it one day; I thought it would be fun for my daughters to try it and then I would knit it up into something for them. I think they would be so full of pride to wear something that they personally dyed.

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