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