For today’s installment of Eat, Knit and Dye, I decided to try a color combination that is outside my normal intense color range. I was thinking of something like dawn at Mt. Rainier and I wanted it to be a lacy yarn, so I choose Leslie as my undyed base. Leslie is a single-ply of 100% Merino Wool superwash, perfect for intricate lace projects (656 yards / 100 gram hank.)
This is a complete experiment, so who knows what will happen. This could be a beautiful colorway. It could be a complete disaster. Either way, its going to be fun to try!
Closer inspection of this gorgeous photo led me to select 5 colors: gold, coral, lavender, blue and grey. I knew I was going to be doing some color mixing to get the shades that I desired, so I decided to premix the colors into condiment bottles. Here are the recipes and all are mixed with 2 ounces of water.
• Gold = 1/16 tsp Jacquard Golden Ochre, 1/16 tsp Bright Yellow
• Coral = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Salmon
• Lavender = 1/16 tsp Jacquard Periwinkle, 1/16 tsp Lilac
• Blue = 1/18 tsp Jacquard Sky Blue, a pinch of Silver Grey
• Grey = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Gun Metal
Don't be afraid to change the colors to different shades of color. This is an experiment. For example, the coral recipe is a warmer tone then that in the picture because its representing the bright pink and the orange in the picture.
While my colors were being mixed, I soaked my yarn in a bowl of water and 1 tsp of citric acid for 30 minutes. (Also notice that I used embroidery floss to tie the hank together in a few sections to keep the yarn from becoming a tangled mess). And then I transferred it into my trusty brownie pan and placed it over two burners on my stove. I also knew I’d be doing speckles, so I protected my stove by covering the surface with tin foil. And as always, a reminder that acid dye is not food safe, so everything you see here is used only for dyeing yarn and never for food prep.
I had this grand, glorious idea of a mottled, shifting yarn. I poured the yarn soaking water into the brownie pan. Keeping the water very shallow, parts of the yarn remained above the waterline. The dye was dripped into splotches of random color. It very quickly became apparent the dye was striking quickly, and it was only attaching to the surface of the yarn.
OK, so that didn't work. Time for a different tactic! I added more water, so the yarn was completely submerged, and then added a generous amount of dye in blocks of color. Some wiggling of the yarn with my prongs ensured the dye water was circulating. Satisfied I was getting more of the effect I wanted, I allowed the yarn to soak up all the colors, and exhaust the dye. (Exhausting the dye bath is a term that means all the color has attached itself to the fibers, and the remaining liquid is clear.)
Once the liquid was mostly clear, I used my tongs to check and see if the underside of the yarn had dyed, and the answer was... wait for it....
That's OK. This is all an experiment, remember? And it's just yarn. And dye. And time. In the end, we are sure to end up with something interesting, and I'm learning so much as I go.
So, I rotated the yarn in the pan so that the undyed sections were facing up, while keeping the colors in the same section. Then, I added more dye to the water, again letting it exhaust.
Now that the color is fairly uniform, its time to add speckles! I decided to add the speckles in only two of the colors because I didn’t want this visually busy yarn being overwhelmed. For this yarn, I used Salmon and Gun Metal. I added powdered dye into a tea strainer (make sure you do this over the open dye jar; or a lot of the powder will go straight through the strainer and all over your counter. (I found this out the hard way!) Using a measuring spoon, tap the side of the strainer to allow some of the dye powder to drift down into the bath and it will lightly speckle the yarn. I tapped the Salmon color over the gold, salmon, and lavender sections. I tapped the Gun Metal over all the colors.
I figured I was done at this point and turned off the heat and let it cool. Once cooled off, I transferred the yarn to my sink. At this point, I noticed that the pink section didn’t get all the way dyed. No worries; I just turned the heat back on and added more pink dye to the remaining liquid, and draped the yarn over the pan so the undyed yarn could get some color. I allowed the dye to exhaust again.
NOW it's gorgeous. Finally done, I rinsed the yarn in the sink. Adding a drop of clear dish soap helped to remove the excess dye. Once the water ran clear, I squeezed out the excess water with a towel and then hung the yarn it outside to dry.
- Take care when handling dye in powdered form
Want to match your dyed hank of Leslie with a solid color? Here's a fun fact: Leslie is the undyed version of Zitron Filigran, which comes in solids and multicolors. Combine your hand dyed with a solid for a fun stripe, or mosaic, or colorwork piece! We want to see your project! Tag us on social media with #makersmercantile.
Tara Warburton is the former graphic designer for Makers' Mercantile® and a fine artist. She specializes in watercolor and colored pencil illustrations. She lives with her two cats, who are not helpful when knitting.