Whidbey Forest Hand Dyed Gradient

Eat, Knit and Dye

Have you heard about the new yarn Whidbey? I hope so. YarnYay! included a special colorway in one of their boxes, and now that the full line of colors are available, there is a Yarn Tasting Party in-store at Makers' Mercantile® on July 20th.  But did you know it also has an undyed version? It does! That means if you love this yarn AND want a custom colorway, you can have your (yarn) cake and eat it too!

If you haven’t heard about Whidbey, it’s a DK / light worsted weight in a 47% Bamboo, 37% Superwash Merino and 16% Nylon blend. Want to learn more? Check out this article telling you more about the yarn and its colorways.

Remember when I dyed the long gradient on our Frida yan base? I was anxious to try another gradient. Instead of making my string of mini-skeins, I decided to make my sock blank using the addi Express in the small size. It is easy to set up, and I anchored it to my kitchen counter.

With easy turning of the handle, I was able to create this nice long tube of fabric in about 15 minutes. I prefer this method over the mini-skeins because it not only saved a ton of time, but it also has such nice even stitches, so I know that any gradient I lay down can be even, and so I don’t end up with too much of one color and not enough of another.

In keeping with the Pacific Northwest color theme, I thought about all of my childhood summers growing up here. My parents and I would frequently go for long hikes through the forests, and I think our forests are some of the most beautiful places in the world. So my gradient will include the bright green of moss, the forest green of the fir tree boughs, and the dark brown of the earth and tree bark.

To accomplish this, I mixed up three jars of color. Each jar contains a ¾ cup of water and 1/8 tsp of citric acid. And I used our trusty Jacquard Acid Dyes.
•    1/8 tsp of Jacquard Chartreuse
•    1/16 tsp of Jacquard Spruce and 1/16 tsp of Emerald
•    1/8 tsp of Jacquard Brown

I filled three 60 ml syringes with 30 ml of each color. Then I filled one syringe with 30 ml of Chartreuse and 30 ml of the forest green mixture, and another syringe with 30 ml of forest green and Brown.

Laying the sock blank flat on top of some plastic wrap, I started adding the dye from the syringes. I just squirted the dye back and forth, not worrying about making sure the area wasn’t 100% saturated with dye. I also did my best not to overlap the colors at this point. I just eyeballed it, but you can also measure off the sections before you start and loosely tie embroidery floss around a single stitch to mark your section.

If you want to be more precise with the size of the color stripes, put a piece of paper with lines drawn on it under the plastic wrap spaced at whatever dimension you wish. That will help show you where to begin and end each color section. Perhaps I'll do that in another post for you.

To mix the sections where two colors meet, I added a smidge more of each spring at the section lines, then pressed down on the yarn tube to squish out the excess dye and smoothly mix the colors. Next, I pressed down along the entire length of the tube (warning! If you are following along as home, make sure you check the dye on your gloves. You don’t want brown getting into your chartreuse!). This not only mixes the colors but makes sure the yarn is fully saturated with dye all the way through, so I don’t get white spots.

Since you're working with a series of colors, work from light to dark  to reduce the chances of putting colors where you don't want it to be.

Next up is the making of a cinnamon roll! Fold the plastic wrap over the yarn tube and loosely roll it up just like a cinnamon roll (though not as tasty). Using a dye dedicated plate, I popped it into the microwave for 2 minutes. Let it rest for a few seconds, then microwaved it for another 2 minutes. The plastic wrap will probably puff up a bit and some of the dye might leak out. I find it harder to exhaust dye (where the water goes clear) using the microwave method. It isn't the gentlest method to set dye, but it works!

Using some tongs, I put the yarn wrap into my sink and let it cool down. When the outside was cold enough to handle, I unwrapped the roll and let it cool to room temperature. I washed the yarn in cold water with some clear dish soap and was pleased to find the water was surprisingly clear. And out on the porch, it went to dry.

Last up was winding the ball to see the gorgeous gradient. The nice thing about a sock blank is it unravels quickly and easily. So unlike the mini-hanks from Frida, this process took the same amount of time that it does to unwind any hank of yarn into a ball.

Remember to wait until your yarn is totally dry before winding it into a ball or cake.

And here is the finished gradient in all its glory! I’m super pleased because this turned out exactly the way I thought it would (that rarely happens!) I like how the bamboo strands didn’t take any dye and makes it seem a bit more rustic. Why did that happen? Well, acid dyes are specifically for protein fibers (wool, silk, etc). You need a different type of dye for cellulose fibers (bamboo, cotton, linen, etc).

I’m super stoked to knit this up. Wouldn't this be super cute in Coupeville Hat pattern by Kyle Kunnecke? Then I can wear my Forest Gradient hat while hiking in the forest!

And guess what? Makers’ Mercantile has restocked all their undyed yarn, so head on over there and pick up some yarn! Why do I like their undyed yarn? Because its all super high quality, and a large portion of it has a Oeko-Tex rating of 100. Learn more about Oeko-Tex by visiting their website.

Stay tuned for next week where I prepare some yarn for the August Knit Knit Cowl Knit Along!

Ready to make your 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