Tag Archives: Hand Dye

justine’s baby blanket…

It seems like there is always a little baby somewhere in my life that I can make presents for. I really enjoy making gifts for babies, I imagine them growing up and saying things like “I’ve had this dolly since I was born”, or the mums and dads saying “Aunty Sam made this for you!”, when I am clearly not a related Aunty!

I met Justine at work a few years ago, and we became close friends very quickly. She’s got a wicked sense of humour, and I love her to bits. When she told me she was expecting a baby, I was giddy with happiness for her! I started to think about things to make for her, and I settled on a blanket.

You may remember a while ago, I wrote a post on how I dye wool with food colouring. Well, this was the intended project!

I knew I wanted this blanket mostly white, with splashes of bright colours mottled throughout. Justine doesn’t know if she’s having a boy or a girl, so I kept this blanket gender neutral.

Some of the pictures are a little warm in colour, but this picture is probably the best representation of the actual colour.

I made this blanket using a basic Granny Square pattern, round after round after round. I really like this method of creating a blanket, there is little to no concentration required, and I could work on it in front of the TV, or in the car, without the need of referring to a pattern.

The size of the blanket was determined by how much wool I had (400 grams). Once I started to run low, I ran a slip stitch around the edge for a border. The blanket ended up being about 90cm square, after blocking.

I love how it turned out. It’s squishy, and very warm! The colours are bright, and I love how they pooled in some areas. The wool I used is 100% machine washable, making it easy to clean, and the “dye” I used is just food colouring, so no nasty chemicals were needed.

I can’t wait to see bubba laying on it, squawking his or her lungs out, as I’m told they do!

PS: I think she’s having a little girl!

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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!

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!