Felicia Northern Lights Hand Dyeing

Eat, Knit and Dye

I have never seen the Northern Lights in real life, but I really really REALLY want to. I love how the neon colors fill the night sky, and nature puts on a light show. I’m looking into vacations to Iceland specifically so I can see the Northern Lights. Plus, the pictures in Midgard by Stephen West & Cirilia Rose show how beautiful Reykjavik is. This is a bucket list sort of vacation.

This week I am working with the undyed yarn, Felicia. It is a blend of 65% Merino Extrafine and 35% Mulberry Silk and is quite luxurious to work with, and a delight to dye. I have to admit, I kept admiring the feel of the yarn.

I once again used the lovely Jacquard Acid Dyes. For this yarn, I mixed the dyes up in condiment bottles, all using 3 ounces of water.
•    ¼ tsp Jacquard Hot Fuchsia
•    ¼ tsp Jacquard Turquoise and 1/8 tsp Sky Blue
•    ¼ tsp Jacquard Brilliant Kelly Green
•    ¼ tsp Jacquard Violet
•    ¼ tsp Jacquard Jet Black
•    ¼ tsp Jacquard Chartreuse

Photograph by Landon Arnold

I presoaked the yarn in a bowl of water for an hour prior to dyeing. For this experiment, I used the funky brownie edge pan, but I think if I were to try this again in the future, I would use the saran wrap method from the Rainbow Fade Set or the dip dye method from the Fiery Sunset. I’ll explain why in a moment.

I filled the pan with water and 1 tbsp of citric acid and added in the yarn. I tried to make sure the yarn was submerged as much as possible. The pan is spread across two burners and the heat on low. The water should be just before simmering.

And the weekly safety note: everything you see here is dedicated to dyeing as acid dyes are not food safe. And wear a respirator when working with the powdered dye, as there is no need to dye your lungs.

Once the water was at my desired temperature, I slowly started adding the dye stock both directly to the yarn and the water surrounding it. And wow, did the dye strike quickly. I’m sure it is because I used way too much acid. The dye didn’t have time to circulate in the pan and the insides of the skein didn’t get any dye to penetrate. I’ve also found that the brownie pan is a fairly narrow channel for the yarn, and it just doesn’t let the water circulate.

In attempt to get all the yarn colored, I just kept sifting through the yarn strands with a prong and adding in more dye stock to the bare areas. I had to spend a lot of time with this skein to make sure the dye penetrated all the way inside the skein, but it still did turn out blotchy. I can work with this since the inspiration is the Northern Lights and I’ll just call the white spots stars (also known as a “design feature.”) Despite its flaws, I’m still happy with it, and I certainly learned a lot with this one.

Lessons learned:
•    I used too much citric acid, and the dye struck too fast. I should have kept the acid levels lower.
•    I like the brownie pan, but I think it’s better for different techniques. I want to try more long gradients and yarn where the undyed part is part of the design.

I think I might have to keep with my Icelandic theme and knit up a lopapeysa sweater. This yarn would pair well with Zitron Seidenstrasse.

Stay tuned for next week where I try my hand at dip dyeing and keeping part of the yarn undyed!

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!

About Tara
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.

Tara Warburton's Frost Fairy