Tag Archives: Dye

knitted sock & colour pondering…

I’ve tried knitting socks on a few occasions, and I normally end up with a great tangle of wool and needles. Getting those needles aligned, and the cast on stitches not being twisted was always my downfall. So, no socks for me.

Until now! I was seduced into buying this gorgeous sock wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills, and I promised myself I’d give knitting socks a red-hot go.

I’ve frogged four times.

However! I will continue, and promise to show you a picture, once I’m more than 2cm into the sock (because, really, how exciting is that?).. In the meantime, I’ve been dreaming of dyeing my own sock wool (using my food colour method), and I’ve been on the hunt for some colour combinations. After a quick search on Pinterest, I found some really lovely colour pallets from Design Seeds, and one day (after finishing what I have on the needles already) I’d love to try a few of these out!

Teal shades are gorgeous, with a punch of coral to break it up

Teal shades are gorgeous, with a punch of coral to break it up

I love how these colours look aged and weathered

I love how these colours look aged and weathered

Beautiful grey colours, remind me of a stormy day

Beautiful grey colours, remind me of a stormy day

I'm imagining a mostly blue sock, accented with the other colours

I’m imagining a mostly maroon sock, accented with the other colours

Soft, delicate colours that blend into each other

Soft, delicate colours that blend into each other

I wonder how well I’ll go matching food colouring to the ones above.. Might be a little difficult, but I’m all up for experimenting!

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dyeing wool with food colouring…

I’ve done this a few times before (see here), but I’ve never dyed 100% wool, and I was really excited to see how it would turn out. Food colouring is a brilliant way to dye, it doesn’t need any nasty chemicals, it’s quick, and the clean up is easy. The only problem is, this method will only work on a yarn that has some animal fibre content. If you want to dye cotton or 100% acrylic, it’s not going to work! So stick with something that has at least 60% wool.

I purchased 2 balls of Luxury wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills in the shade Frost. It’s a gorgeous wool, and not at all scratchy (these balls are huge, 200g each!) This wool is great to use if you’re dying for the first time, as it is machine washable, which brings the chance of felting your wool down significantly! First, I used the edge of my dining table to turn the balls into one huge skein. I used scrap pink cotton to secure the skein in about 5 places, so it wouldn’t tangle.

Now to prepare the wool for dyeing. I put the entire skein into a large saucepan and slowly added enough warm water to cover, making sure I squished the wool down to force the water in. Don’t be alarmed by the next photo, that’s just warm water from the tap coming out of my kettle, not boiling!

When the wool was well soaked, I added 1.5 cups of white vinegar. This is really important! It prepares the wool for the dye and helps it to stick. I squished the wool again to move the vinegar around. Let it soak for at least half an hour.

 While you wait, you can make your dyes! I used AmeriColor soft gel food colouring I found at Victoria’s Basement, in Turquoise, Holiday Red and Egg Yellow. You can use any food colouring you want, but I find that the stuff you buy at a cake decorating store (or similar) has a higher pigmentation solution. To a little container (far left) I added a squirt of colour, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, and about half a cup of warm water. Stir to dissolve.

Take your wool and squeeze as much of the water out as you can. You want it to be damp, but not dripping. Set it out on your surface on top of some cling wrap. Now the fun begins! I know what I’m making with this wool, so I knew exactly where and how I wanted my colours. I wanted the end result to be mostly white, with splashes of colour. Just grab a paint brush and start painting! Really try to push the dye into the wool, and check the underside for white patches.

When you’ve painted the entire skein, or just the sections you want, wrap the cling wrap over and around the wool. You want to try and keep the sections away from each other, so really make sure that it is all wrapped tight.

Turn your slow cooker on and place a wire rack (or something for the upcoming dish or bowl to sit on) inside. Fill the cooker with enough water to just reach the top of the rack. Grab your cling-wrapped skein and place it in a pyrex dish or oven proof bowl. Put this on top of the rack, making sure your lid can still fit on as normal. Turn the cooker up to high, and walk away for an hour.

Try to be patient and don’t lift that lid! All of the steam in there is super hot, and working for you to make that dye set into the wool. After an hour, turn the cooker off and carefully remove the dish. Let it cool until you can handle it comfortably. Remove the cling wrap and wash the wool in a bucket or the sink with some wool wash or some gentle shampoo. When washing, you shouldn’t see too much colour coming out, a little is fine, but most of it should be stuck right into that wool.

Hang it up somewhere to dry completely (mine took about a day to dry out). Once it is dry, ball it up or skein it, and marvel at what you’ve created!

I really love doing this! It gives you a chance to be creative with colour, without much effort. I’ve already started working with this wool, and I was really surprised at how the colours are coming together. I had a much different idea in my head about how they were going to look, but I like what they are doing! It’s like they have a mind of their own!

I hope this post was helpful to anyone who wants to try dyeing for the first time, and if you have any questions, just let me know! I’m not by any means an expert, but I can always give you my opinion. Have fun!!

31.03.2014 UPDATE: If you’d like to see the finished project using this hand dyed wool, click here!

tutorial… dyeing yarn with food colouring

Let’s get straight to it, shall we?! This method of dyeing will not work on yarn that is plant based (eg: 100% cotton). I’m using Patons Big Baby, which is 60% Acrylic and 40% Nylon. It takes the colour well, but I’m sure 100% wool would be much more vibrant.

You will need: Yarn of your choice; Slow cooker; Food colouring; Measuring spoons; Paint brush; White vinegar; Stainless steel bowl; Small cups; Cling wrap.

1. Prepare your yarn by soaking it 4 cups warm water and 2 cups white vinegar, for half an hour. The vinegar helps the colour penetrate the yarn.

2. While you’re waiting for the yarn to soak, put some water in the slow cooker and set it to a low simmer. To make the dye, I used 2 teaspoons of food colouring and 6 tablespoons of warm water. You can add a small amount of vinegar to the dye as well, but I find it sometimes makes the colour split, especially if you’re mixing red and blue to make purple. Lay some cling wrap on your work surface large enough to lay the yarn on. After half an hour, squeeze as much of the liquid out of the yarn as you can, and lay it on the cling wrap.

3. Yay! The fun part! Painting the yarn! How you do this is completely up to you! I like to use an old paint brush and dab the colour on, then using a gloved hand, gently push and squeeze the colour into the yarn. Seeing as I didn’t have a lot of yarn, I chose two colours only, blue and red. I wanted to minimise the amount of purple at the colour join, so I left a large gap in between.

4. Once all the yarn is fully painted, wrap it in the cling wrap you have on your work surface. Try to wrap it so that the different colours don’t touch. Place it in the stainless steel bowl, and put this in the slow cooker. My slow cooker has a little metal rack inside it, so the bowl isn’t resting directly on the bottom of the pan. There should also be water left in the slow cooker. If not, add some more now. Whack it up to the highest setting, put the lid on, and let it cook for one hour. Try not to lift the lid to investigate, you’ll let all the hot steam out. It is best to clean up, and just walk away, go and do something else!

5. Once the hour is up, carefully (please be careful!) remove the bowl from the slow cooker and put it somewhere to cool down. Once the yarn is completely cooled, remove the cling wrap and rinse the yarn in cool/warm water. When the water runs clear, you can gently wash the yarn in wool wash, or like me, regular old shampoo. Squeeze as much liquid out as you can, and put it somewhere to dry.

Once it’s dry, wrap it in a pretty hank and ta-dah! You’re all done! Now it’s time to marvel over your freshly dyed yarn, take a million pictures of it, look at it in the sunlight, in the shade, and decide what on earth you’re going to make with it.

The colours aren’t as vibrant as I would have liked, but I’m guessing that has a lot to do with the fact that I am using rather cheap food colouring (99 cents a bottle), and the yarn is made up of mostly acrylic fibres. Anyway, I’m happy with how it turned out, and when I finally knit something with it, I’ll let you know!

Have you used this method of dyeing before? I find it works well for me, but if you have a slightly different approach I’d love to hear it! If you try my version, let me know how you go, and feel free to share photos of your marvellous creations!!

hand dyed yarn…

Knitting or crocheting a gift for someone is a very special thing, but being able to personalize that gift just a little more is amazing! I have always been fascinated with dyeing and the process behind it, but I am rather impatient, and having to wait overnight for a cold dye to set is torture! HOT DYEING TO THE RESCUE! The thing I love about this technique, is that you can use food colouring as the dye, which means it is cheap, and you don’t have to deal with any nasty chemicals.

This was so much fun, and such a quick and rewarding project. I dyed this yarn with the The finished productspecific idea of crocheting a baby blanket for a work colleague who is having a little girl. Next time, I will take more photos and document my entire process for you to read over. I’ve decided to name this colour-way “Candy Sunrise”. Can’t wait to show you the finished blanket!