Today we continue our dye experiments by playing with dip dying! This week features Sadie, an undyed sock yarn that arrives in 70-inch / 175 cm diameter hank. This is a longer-than-typical circumference and is done so to allow for modifications in specific types of dying. It’s an 80% Merino Extrafine Superwash Wool and 20% Nylon blend, and wow, is it squishy. This yarn was selected because of its larger hank diameter, and I figured I could get a more dramatic gradient out of it. So let's see what we can do!
For color inspiration I used this intense sunset. Looking at the photo, I see blue, violet, magenta, orange and yellow. I left out the black because I felt it would be too much with all the colors and wouldn’t really add anything to the yarn. And I added in a red band to help with the transition from orange to magenta. All of the colors were mixed into 2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of citric acid (the high acid lets it strike faster)
• Yellow = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Sun Yellow
• Orange = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Sun Yellow and 1/4 tsp Deep Orange
• Red = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Fire Red
• Magenta = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Hot Fuchsia
• Purple = 1/8 tsp Jacquard Violet and 1/8 tsp Brilliant Blue
• Blue = 1/4 tsp Jacquard Brilliant Blue
Out comes my trusty dedicated dye pot (remember, acid dyes aren’t food safe, so all your pots and utensils should be used only for dyeing.) Fun fact, this pot has been with me for 20 years. It was part of my first pot and pan set when I started college. The Teflon started scratching off, so it became my dedicated crafting pot.
But I digress. Let's get back to dyeing! I filled the pot with 2 cups of water and 1 tbsp of water. While wearing a respirator (to protect my lungs!), the powdered dye was added directly to the pot stirred around until it was dissolved. After turning on the heat, I brought the liquid to just under simmering.
I soaked the yarn in plain water for 30 minutes, and then squeezed out the excess water with a towel. To dye this extra-long hank, I grabbed it around the middle and let the remainder rest looped over my arm. Once the water was at the desired temperature, I quickly dipped just the end of the yarn into the dye bath and immediately removed it. I repeated this maneuver several times, each time dipping the yarn a bit further in, but the dye bath was nowhere close to exhausting (when all the dye is gone, and the water is clear.) And my arm was already getting tired and there are several more colors to go! Something had to be done...
Since this is an experiment and its fun, I decided to see if I could just drape the yarn over the edge of the pot and let it just hang out while the dye was absorbed. And drum roll please, it worked! Do make sure your yarn isn’t anywhere near the burner. My stove is a gas range, and I was extra paranoid about the yarn catching on the open flame. I didn’t leave the kitchen while the dye was doing its thing. But I did catch up on my Instagram account.
Once the dye bath was getting pretty clear, I dipped the yarn back in at varying depths to get the gradient. Also, I swished around the yarn to ensure that color is deposited on all the strands. And now our water is clear! Needing to prep the next color and to let the yarn cool, I draped it over my faucet and protected the undyed part by keeping it in its own bowl.
I replenished the water in the pot so it was at the same level as before and added the orange dye to the pot and let it dissolve. And waited impatiently for the yarn to cool to a point where I could squeeze out the excess water. Remember, the yarn is at near boiling temperatures, so don’t burn your hand when trying this!
Once the yarn was cool enough (finally!) I picked it up with both hands, again looping the extra yarn over the back of my wrist and did the same dip dyeing method as before. And I let it rest on the edge of the pot folded over its self until the dyed exhausted. And guess what? This is what you do for the remainder of the colors.
Once all the colors were finally dyed, I let it cool in my sink, keep the yellow part looped over the faucet. I know from experience with watercolors that anytime you put yellow by any other color, there is a good chance that the yellow section will pick up that other color. It’s almost as bad as trying to leave a white section. Almost.
Once the yarn was cooled off, I rinsed it with cold water. Then I washed it with a bit of clear dish soap to dislodge any excess dye that wasn’t removed during the rinsing process. I always kept the yellow dye at the top of the skein out of color running paranoia. (Is that a real thing? It should be!)
And out on the porch to dry in the glorious spring sunshine. I have found that yarn dries so much faster outside in the warm weather than it does hung on a towel bar in my laundry room. And makes a way pretty picture too!
• The red dye is super-duper extra saturated and that I probably needed to use way less of that color
• My red section is much larger than I had anticipated because of the strong pigment. I suppose I could have dumped the dye water and added less, but I don’t want to waste pigment or wash it down the drain.
This is such a pretty colorway, and I really like how the extra-long hank gave me lots of room to play with the gradient. Our matching equivalent of Sadie is Zitron Wolkenspiel. Can’t you just see this yarn combined with Colorway 2231, an absolutely vibrant yellow/orange mix?
Ready to make your own unique colorway? Hop on over to Makers’ Mercantile and pick up your undyed yarn and supplies. We can’t wait to see what you make, so 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.