Lillian Double Rainbow

Eat, Knit and Dye

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am also an artist who works with watercolors and colored pencils. I’ve been lucky enough to be in a handful of art shows and galleries. I love working in those two mediums because of the color blending that can be achieved. I’ve really found that working with yarn dye is very similar to watercolors and I wanted to try an experiment with triads.

This week’s undyed yarn is Lillian - a stunning single ply of 100% Mulberry Silk which will take dye intensely and beautifully. Once it’s dyed it will have this sort of lustery glow. (And yes, I made that word up.)

What is a triad? It’s when you only use 3 colors and mix those to get all of the other colors. I’ve posted an image of "Octopus Garden" that I created using a triad. For those who are curious, I used Phthalo Blue Green Shade, Hansa Yellow Medium and Quinacridone Rose. And it’s created a delightful rainbow of color that all works together because it doesn’t introduce any addition new hues. 

So how do I recreate this on a skein of yarn? To start with, I need three colors of acid dyes. I chose Jacquard Acid Dyes in Turquoise, Hot Fuchsia and Sun Yellow. These colors closely match the art I showed you above.

I filled up my trusty dye dedicated pot with water, 1/8 tsp of the Turquoise and 1 tbsp of citric acid. I used a high amount of citric acid because I wanted the dye to strike quickly. The pot was set to almost before simmering. I also soaked the yarn in water for 2 hours before dyeing.

Holding the yarn in the middle of the hank, I let the ends hang down. I really thought I took a picture of this, but it turns out I didn’t. I dipped just the very ends in the yarn, over and over again, slowly moving up the skein. I made sure that I didn’t go past the halfway mark on the yarn. If I went much further, I wouldn’t be able to get the other two primary colors.

I continued this dipping until the dye had exhausted. I put the hank over to the side to let it cool and added a bit more water, citric acid and 1/8 tsp of Hot Fuchsia into the pot. I picked up the hank of yarn around the middle but rotated the center point over by a third. This ensured that some bare yarn would get the Hot Fuchsia dye and there would be some overlap with the Turquoise but didn’t completely cover it. If that didn’t make sense, you can see the finished hank below.

I bet you can guess what happened next! I let the pink dye exhaust and moved onto the Sun Yellow (1/4 tsp of it!). I again rotated the yarn so that the bare yarn would get the yellow color and then fade into both then pink and the blue areas.

And a beautiful double rainbow has emerged! You can see from this lovely picture from the dry yarn how I held the yarn to dip into the blue dye. 

I’m excited because this yarn turned out exactly the way I want it to. A full spectrum of the rainbow using only three colors. Lillian would be lovely combined with Zitron Traumseide. But did you know you can embroider with this Mulberry silk as well? And that’s what I’m going to. This destined to become part of a fancy dress that I can wear to parties.

Stay tuned for next week where we try out twisted resistance! (Doesn’t that sound like a rock song?)

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