05 March 2010

Dye Your Own Yarn With Stuff You Probably Already Have

Here is an easy way to dye your own yarn using supplies you probably already have in your kitchen.

  • "Blank" yarn
  • White Vinegar
  • Food coloring
  • Assorted glass and/or plastic jars and containers (no metal since that can react with some dyes)

  1. Prepare your wool. I like KnitPicks Bare, but any wool will do.

    During this step you can try and organize how long you want your repeats to be. I wanted mine to be pretty long so I did this crazy maneuver to make a long skein.

    Just make sure you tie the skein in a ton of places so it won't get too tangled during the process.
  2. Pre-soak the wool. Using tepid to cool water mixed with "some" vinegar (I used maybe a cup for a wash basin, this need not be an exact science) and let the wool soak for 10-15 minutes until saturated.
  3. Prepare your dye. While the yarn soak mix up your colors. I used gel food coloring and mixed roughly a tablespoon of dye to 1/3 cup vinegar then topped the containers up with water from the wool pre-soak bin until they were full enough to soak the yarn. Mix the colors as you wish, I did straight green, straight blue and a "custom" mixed purple.
  4. Set the wool in the dye baths. Pull the wool out of the vinegar soak and gently wring out as much of the water as you can. Now just place the wool into the containers in whatever order/pattern you desire.
  5. Wait it out. Just let the wool sit in the baths until the color looks good and/or all the dye has been pulled out of the water. With some colors the water will actually be clear with all the color having moved into the wool, but just use your best judgement.
  6. Rinse the wool Pull the skein out of the colors and rinse with cool water until it runs clear then gently wring it out as much as you can. Hang it up to dye and when it is dry, it is all set to use.
I found this made a very nice product with very "true" colors and the colors held well when washed. It is worth noting that I wash my hand-knit socks in washing machine with my darks in cold water and air dye them. This works fine for me and proves that this dye method will hold pretty well.

Enjoy the dyeing and hook me up with pictures if you try it out!