Yarn Dying

Last week I got to learn about something new to me.   Maria (the same Maria that is quilting her way through Living Large 2 and if you follow this blog, you have seen my links to her projects) had taken a class on it and passed that knowledge onto me.

When she offered to teach me, I immediately went to Ravelry to pick out all the sweaters that I wanted to knit this winter.  I narrowed it down to two or three that I thought would look good with hand-dyed yarn.  Maria said it didn’t take very long, so I figured I needed to be prepared with several projects.  I also thought, because I knit sweaters, that I should be dying sweater quantities of yarn.  I suppose that is a little like thinking that your very first quilt should be a queen size.  Anyone else done anything like that?

Needless to say, Maria started me out with a few practice skeins.  We soaked the skeins in water, while we thought about what colors we wanted to use.  There are ten base colors that are mixed to form any number of colors.  I thought it was really interesting to see what happened when different colors were mixed . . .

The color is then poured over the yarn, which is wrapped in Saran wrap.

Then it is put in a microwave and steamed.

After the yarn is cooled, then it was rinsed and hung out to dry.  I found the drying process to be really long.  The dry yarn looks nothing like the yarn when it is wet, so you really have no idea what color it will turn out.  I was rather impatient about seeing what colors I would get.

I went for subtle color variations,

while Maria went for more pop.  She was a little braver than I was, though she has done this a few more times than I have!   I was actually nervous during the process.  I began to rethink my yarn-dying ambitions and decided that I didn’t want to risk ruining a large quantity of yarn.  I also realized why hand-dyed yarn is so expensive – this was more time-consuming than I thought!

Maria suggested that I over-dye some stash yarn that I no longer liked.  That way, if I ruined it, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.  I chose this ugly yellow-green yarn – and though I had enough for a sweater – I didn’t think I would use it as is.

I ended up with this.  As soon as it was dry, I had to swatch it up so see how it looked.  Much better I think!

My other skeins turned out like this ~

Now I just have to decide what to make with my goods from the day.   It was an interesting process, but I don’t think I will be giving up quilting for yarn-dying any time soon!   I will post pictures of how the finished projects done  . . .  someday . . . when I get them done.

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About Heather Peterson

Quilt pattern designer
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14 Responses to Yarn Dying

  1. Jackie says:

    I like to dye yarn too. I don’t do it often because I can’t knit it up fast enough. I’ve only used the method you and Maria used once but I really like it. I think you have more control over the coloring of the yarn. Unlike Maria, I don’t usually go bold. I love the semi-solid or subtle color changes like you dyed today.

  2. Mary Jo Larson says:

    What beautiful colors you ended up with. That Maria is such a busy gal. Both of your blogs are so inspiring.

  3. mariajhmom says:

    I love the overdye!!! I think this experiment could be called a success!

  4. I love to dye cloth for quilts. It is so much fun, but definitely time consuming. I tend to gravitate towards the bright bold colors that don’t fit in with my “country” decorating style. I wonder if that says something about my true style. Anyway there is something very special to say I made the quilt with fabric I dyed myself. I’m sure you will have the same thrill with a sweater knitted from yarn that you dyed yourself. Have fun!
    Michelle

  5. Vivian Oaks says:

    Love the colors! For a first-time dyer, I think you’re a very fast learner, and your yarns turned out really, really nice! Congrats. And yes, that not-so-nice greenish yarn looks much better now!!

  6. Jan says:

    I have some yarn that I absolutely hate the color of, so I am now inspired, although to be quite honest, if it weren’t for the fact I need it another color, dying yarn does not even interest me! I would MUCH rather be knitting!!! I do really love the colors you made, all my favorite colors!

  7. Jess says:

    Sooo Cool!!! I loved how your finished product turned out!!

    ~Jess

  8. marsha nelson says:

    Looks like fun. However, since I can neither knit or crochet, I will try dying fabric for quilting. I do love the colors that you ended up with. Really pretty.

  9. Erin says:

    I love the colors, especially the overdye color. Can’t wait to see what you make with them.

  10. Deb C says:

    Very nice. Congrats on your first attempt. I love your blue green sample.
    A few months ago, I had this pattern that I wanted to make a vest from and it called for super bulky wool/acrylic blend, but all I could find in my Ravelry stash search was a solid yellow, and I didn’t want it to be solid yellow. So I overdyed with Koolaid in my crockpot (apparantly microwaving acrylic is a big no-no) with orange, lime green and blue raspberry Koolaid powder, and now I have a nice fall colored vest.

  11. I love to dye my yarn! It’s such fun, so easy to do and you end up with gorgeous examples such as the ones you dyed!

  12. TheaM1 says:

    your yarn is beautiful!!! can’t wait to see your finished projects 8-)

  13. Hi Mrs.Peterson a amazing things here , congratulations , how do you made this colours ? Great idea.

  14. Brittany says:

    I am curious to know how long you microwave it for.

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