Dyeing Yarn: My First Time

I have been dragging my feet on this blog post, all because I was disappointed with my photos. But considering I took a full day yarn dying workshop and tried my hand at dyeing yarn for the very first time, it seemed a shamed to not share the experience because of less-than-great photos. So here we go, my first time dyeing yarn!

I’m on the newsletter list for pretty much every yarn store in Toronto, and I’ve been waiting for one of them to offer a yarn dyeing workshop. It’s tough, not many shops have the set up to do this, as you need regular access to running water, and a high-powered hotplate or oven to set the dye. And space for the yarn to drip dry, too! But The Knit Cafe recently had a yarn dyeing workshop, and I was fast enough to snag a spot.

This was the set up:

It was a small workshop for only 4 students, and there really wouldn’t have been room for anyone else. We dyed on natural skeins of Cascade Eco, a bulky weight yarn that I love knitting with, but I suspect is actually pretty hard to dye. It’s a two-ply wool that has quite a lot of halo (meaning, it’s pretty fuzzy) so some dye techniques seems less defined than I would like, such as when we tried speckling. but we will get to that!

We tried our hand at mixing dyes, talked about the proportions of dye and water and the effects, and how to space colours. This was my first attempt, and I was trying for a rainbow effect:

The image on the left is before the dye was set. The method we used was to wrap the yarn in plastic wrap, and then put into heavy, freezer-style ziploc bags, and then put the bags in the pot of boiling water (on the hot plate) to set. The dye tends to move around a lot through this process, so my bright bands of yellow on the left became more of a bright yellowy green after the setting process. I learned to leave more space between colours the next time:

Here is an attempt at speckling, before being cooked:

I applied the barest specs of dye, or so I thought. The yarn was likely a bit too wet for the dye to stay put, so you can see how it is already getting a little more of a watercolour look, than crisp speckles.  It’s easier to talk about it when you can see them all at once.

The yarn is in sequence from left to right, the far left skein begin the skein I tried first and the far right the final skein. Doing a technique of pouring over dye is definitely a satisfying way to dye that feels like it turns out almost every time. The second from the left skein was my attempt at making something with a variegation of purples and blues, and while the blues don’t have much range, the purple does. Then I tried to do a speckled skein with black speckles, but it’s pretty much mostly dark grey with some rainbow bits in it. So then I tried to do some speckles with no black dye, and I think it looks rather pretty (3rd from the right).

These photos, blegh. It was too sunny when I took them, so they are bleached out in places. But if I try to edit the contrast down, they look grey and dark. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all. 

 Those were our ‘mini skein’ tests, which were about 30 grams each, and then we dyed our final two skeins, which were 60 grams each (the two skeins on the far right). I decided to do a lighter, unicorn colourway, thinking it would be something Lila would like – maybe I’ll make her a hat and some mittens in the winter? I’m really happy with how it turned out. Then I took my final run at trying for a speckled skein, and managed to use only the tiniest amount of black dye with the other colours. While I think it looks pretty good, I can safely say that trying for a speckled effect on a really sheepy bulky weight yarn is probably not going to yield those crisp results you see when the same techniques are done on superwash merino yarn.

I really enjoyed the workshop – I have dyes at at home and a box of undyed yarn, and have been meaning to try dyeing yarn for probably a couple of years now. But it all seemed so daunting, especially with the huge range of advice and the general insistence that you need separate pots for dyeing yarn than for cooking. I have a small kitchen and no storage, so that never seemed like an option for me. What I loved about the workshop was seeing the ziploc bag technique, which meant that there was never any dye in the pot, so the pot was otherwise perfectly fine.

Due to my finger injury, I haven’t had a chance to swatch up some of these little skeins and see how they look, but I’m pleased to report that my fracture has healed, and I’m back to knitting! Now to finish those sweaters….

Modification Monday: Sparkles and Rainbows

Original Pattern: Savannah Chaps

Knitter Extraordinaire: Sarah (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Changed the original zebra pattern to a unicorn! More photos can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Who knew a zebra could look so magical? I’ve knit the original pattern before, and I love it (plus, it’s actually 3 patterns in one, which is pretty awesome) but I never thought about making a unicorn! Sarah cleverly used a sparkly yarn to add ‘hooves’ by knitting the first 4-5 rows of the pattern with her silvery yarn (each limb is made separately), and adding not only a great silver horn to match, but a wonderful shock of rainbow for the mane and tail.  For the body, she skipped the stripes and kept it all in white. The result is fantastic – I absolutely want to knit a unicorn now.  I have some sparkly gold yarn that might be a great fit!

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

These gigantic crocheted urchins are so beautiful!! I wish I could see them in person.

Knitting as espionage during World War I and II.

13 easy things to reduce stress in your day-to-day life.

If you are interested in Pinterest for small businesses, I was on the Business of Craft podcast recently, and shared all sorts of Pinterest tips.

My Favourite Pins This Week

One of my favourite summer desserts? Creamsicles! Maybe the popsicle version isn’t entirely considered a dessert, but these creamsicle cupcake sure fit the bill. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

I adore rice in just about anything, and this recipe is the sort of thing that has loads of variations and is perfect for using up leftover bits in the fridge. This is cheesy, full of veg (use whatever you have handy), and while the recipe calls for turkey sausage, you could use rotisserie chicken, ham, or skip it all together. Pinterest link is here, and the recipe post is here.

Friendship bracelets just seem like one of those summer activities and accessories that feels like they work, no matter what your age. Wouldn’t these be so pretty made in some leftover fingering or laceweight yarn from a beloved skein? Just so pretty! Pinterest link is here, and the original how-to post is here.

I’m not entirely unhandy with a hammer, and I think that this pretty, minimalist shelf is totally something I (so, anyone) could do. Especially if you get the wood pre-cut at a Home Depot or something. Pinterest link is here, and the original DIY post is here.

I am in awe of this amazing afghan knitting pattern with the iconic Rosie the Riveter design! I feel like it would take a serious amount of commitment to knit it, and I hope some of that is duplicate stitch and not all intarsia, but …. wow. Such an incredible knit, and knitting pattern! Pinterest link is here, and the pattern source is here.

I’m at a poetry conference this weekend – The League of Canadian Poets (isn’t that a great name? I feel like we should fight crime or something) is hosting their conference in Toronto this year, and I’m participating in one of the panels today, taking a workshop tomorrow, and I’m nominated for an award … we’ll see what happens. I don’t think I’m going to win, I seem to have published my book at the same time as a lot of other brilliant poetry books, but it is a thrill to be nominated. And there’s actually supposed to be sunshine this weekend (We’ve had so much rain here in Toronto, it was practically time to start building an ark), so it’s looking good around here! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Modification Monday: Dandelion in a Breeze

And the winner of the Pom Pom Quarterly Giveaway is … Nicole! The draw was randomly selected based on comments, and her winning comment was:

“I love Fete! It might be the bright color, but I love the splash of grey against the pink. It also looks like a statement necklace knitted right onto the fabric.”

Congrats, Nicole!

Original Pattern: Dandelion in a Breeze

Knitter Extraordinaire: Annetta (Ravelry ID, her beautiful blog)

Mods: Changed the transition from the blue to white yarn, used a lighter laceweight for the bottom, and  added lace stitches to the hem. Details can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Annetta hit a bit of a snag in knitting this sweater, and let those snags become a new feature of the sweater, and took the opportunity to try some new things. She chose to knit the sweater with less ease than the pattern calls for, and even though she didn’t transition from the blue to white yarn the pattern specified, she decided to keep going. Lots of knitters would have ripped back, but she liked how it looked. Then the white yarn was lighter than she expected, and was more transparent and ethereal than planned. Working with what she had, Annetta decided to knit a bit of lace into the lower part of the white section, amplifying the delicate quality of the white yarn. Such a beautiful result!! I love this sweater.

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

My Favourite Articles and Links This Week

What a magical, wonderful, fantastic idea- because the world needs more love letters. Talk about contributing positivity in the world.

Being your true self in a relationship is less important than being your best self.

How to prioritize when everything is urgent.

5 tips for hosting your own craft night. Man, if I had a bigger place, I would totally host craft nights.

This. I want to print it out and hand it to ever adult male in the world.

My Favourite Pins This Week

With the warmer weather coming, I’m liking the idea of cooler dinner and lunch ideas, and this garden veggie chickpea sandwich is perfect. Basically, the premise is a wonderfully tasty chickpea salad smushed between two slices on your favourite bread. Talk about easy! And there’s no rule saying it has to be this exact salad (although it is easy, healthy, and I’m personally a fan), it could be any type of salad – Although I speak from experience when I say that couscous salads are better in flatbread wraps than between two slices of bread. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe is here.

Healthy(ier) high protein lemon bars! I love lemony desserts, and these are super easy to make. The crust recipe is a good one, but if you want to cheat and use graham crumbs and butter like I did, you will get no judgement from me. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe is here.

This was a fascinating tutorial on how to knit a shawl with a cabled twist edge. If you are thinking of modifying a shawl, or looking to design your own, I highly recommend the tutorial! Such a great idea. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

11 ways to feel happier at home is a lovely list of ideas of making your home feel like the best place to be. Ideas #2, #7 and #10 are my faves. Pinterest link is here, and the original post can be found here.

There’s something a little magical in a fashion upcycle that actually manages to make small yellow pom poms sewn onto a top look really quite wonderful. I love this whimsical and surprisingly chic mimosa flower detail on a striped top! The original post is in French, but if you use Google Chrome, you can right click on the page and ‘translate this page’ will be one of your options. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

And don’t forget you have just a couple more days to enter to win the hard copy giveaway of the special 5th anniversary issue of Pom Pom Quarterly– no country restrictions!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. I hope that you have great weather, a few laughs, and get your craft on. My hand is healing up, I think I can stop wearing the splint soon- very excited!