Summer is coming! I’m so excited about the gloriously sunny days where all I want to do is sip lemonade and hang out in a hammock. That’s the inspiration for this week’s yarn dyeing tutorial. Wanting a fun and lightweight yarn, I chose Lila. Lila Undyed Lace Yarn is a truly luscious single-ply wool and silk blend yarn that will take dyes beautifully. It is 70% Merino Extra Fine and 30% Silk.
Before I got started, I tied up the skein of yarn in 3 different places to help the yarn from getting unruly during the dyeing process. Lila is so fine I wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything to make it a tangled mess. I have a ton of embroidery floss that I have just laying around from making friendship bracelets (it’s only been 25+ years since the last time I made a friendship bracelet, it’s probably time to use up that floss!) I made sure to tie the floss loosely, so the yarn could move and not create white spots where the dye didn’t penetrate.
And as always, everything you see pictured is used only for dyeing as acid dye isn’t food safe. And it’s not pictured, but I am wearing a respirator to protect my lungs from tiny dye particles.
You’ll see my trusty brownie pan is used in this experiment. Should you wish to try this at home, you don’t really need the fancy pan, a regular pot would work. Mine was just busy dyeing something else at the time.
I placed the yarn into the brownie pan which is stretched across two burners, turning the heat on low to get the water just before simmering. At this point, I added 1 tsp of citric acid into the water and then laid the yarn into the water. I wanted to see what would happen with just using powdered dye instead of making a dye stock. Would this lead to some interesting variations in the concentration of dye on the yarn? It’s not as dense as speckling. More like a freckling?
To add the dye to the water, I filled up my measure spoon and then dipped the spoon into the water. It’s my hope that this keeps the dye from becoming airborne and coating my kitchen in yellow and pink dye. I added Pink to one end and Sun Yellow to the other end. (If you wanted to duplicate this using a pot, you could dip dye the gradient similar to the Fiery Sunset from last week or you could put the yarn into the pot and the dye on different sides of the pot.)
Using my fork, I wiggled the yarn around to help it penetrate into the middle of the skein. I kept a constant watch on the yarn. And waited for the dye to exhaust.
I liked the color of the skein as it was, but I didn’t love it. The freckling had come through. The pink and the yellow (and in some places orange) were nice and bright, but it still seemed a little flat. Since this is all an experiment, this seemed like an excellent opportunity to play with speckles to enhance the freckles. This is also why I chose to speckle in Hot Fuchsia and Golden Yellow. They are a darker colored dye and it’s my hope they would add an extra color punch to the skein.
Using a mini strainer, I scooped up about 1/8 tsp of the powdered dye and put it in the strainer. If you are trying this, make sure to have the strainer resting on the dye bottle because a bunch of dye will immediately go through the mesh and create a mess. In retrospect, I should have put down wet paper towels to catch the stray dye particles, but I also didn’t want the paper close enough to my burners to catch fire….
In order to apply the sprinkles, I tapped the strainer over the yarn and let the sprinkles fall. I tapped Hot Fuchsia over the middle of the yarn were the two colors met and slightly overlapping the pink and yellow sections. It looked a little dark and messy, and I wasn’t sure I loved it because of the dark splotches. But that’s okay, I kept on persevering. With the Golden Yellow, I tapped the sprinkles over the yellow section. It was looking a bit more like how I had imagined it.
I let the yarn cool completely in the pan. Then I washed it with some clear dish soap and hung it outside to try. And that’s when I saw how pretty the yarn turned out. The speckling adds so much texture, and once the hank was twisted, the splotches weren’t as concentrated. It totally reminds me of summer and drinking pink lemonade. I’d call this experiment a win!
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!
• Lighter colors like Pink and Sun Yellow create clear bright colors, but don't have a ton of variation.
• Speckling is fun. And Messy
If I wanted to pair this with a solid, I would pair it with Zitron Filisilk which comes with a dazzling array of colors. Now to add this to my ever-growing stash! I need to start knitting much much faster.
Stay tuned for next week where I show you my most ambitious project to date, a rainbow fade set!
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 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.