Thursday, November 3, 2011
Step by Step Yarn Dyeing
There comes a time, when a knitter feels fed up with the yarn color range available in her local yarn stores and is tempted to customize her yarn. So I've felt that urge to dye yarn for some time now, I read all about coffee, tea and Kool-Aid yarn dyeing and finally I was ready to go. I used STEP sugar free instant drink, available on our market.
But first a quick word about artificial sweeteners. Kool-Aid, as I gather, is sold sugar and artificial sweetener free, but it's not sold in my country and I couldn't find an instant drink that does not contain artificial sweeteners. Most bloggers on the Internet claim that sugar AND artificial sweeteners are bad for your yarn (for your health, yes, sure, but for your yarn??). So, I gathered all of my school days chemistry knowledge and started thinking. Sugar is carbohydrates. Carbs plus water mean starch and that is glue on your yarn - well, you do not want that for sure. BUT artificial sweeteners are NOT carbohydrates, but chemicals, which give that (artificially, ghrr) sweet taste to your drink and should not make starch with water - ERGO, no problem.
So, I bought four sachets of STEP - Berry Punch and Red Grapes, as I wanted my yarn to be slightly variegated, but not many-colored. My colors are E122 (carmoisine - deep pink red), the basic color of both drinks, E150d (caramel), E155 (chocolate brown), E133 (brilliant blue).
For my 50 g of yarn I used two STEP red grape and one STEP Berry Punch.
Here's my step-by-step process.
1. You'll get best results with 100% animal fibers - merino or other wool, alpaca, etc.
I bought two balls of 50g white pure merino (virgin wool). The first thing to do is to unwind the yarn into a hank. You don't have a niddy-noddly - ha, who has! - just use the four legs of an upturned small table or the backs of two of your kitchen chairs (as I did). Tie the hank at several places with a thread (I used 100% cotton theard to see if cotton would dye too - it didn't at all!)
2. Soak the yarn for 30 min into warm water and liquid soap. This is done to remove all dust particles and grease, that has stuck to your yarn from handling it here and there.
3. Gently rinse the yarn to remove the soap and then soak for another 30 min into a solution of 4 cups of warm water and 1 cup of white vinegar. True, instant drinks contain citric and malic acid, but to be on the safe side - you do need acid to open the fibers of your yarn and fix the color, and I'm not sure if the acid in the drinks is enough.
4. In the meantime prepare the dye (drinks), dissolving the powder with water. The amount of water doesn't matter, the amount of dye does!
5. Gently remove the water from the yarn (do not rinse it, do not twist) - it should be wet, but not dripping. Place it in a microwave-safe vessel. Because these drinks are supposedly health-hazard free (not that our family would drink such artificial s..t), I was not worried to use my cooking casserole. Now is the interesting part. Use your imagination and pour the dyes as you wish them to appear on your yarn. Gently press the yarn to distribute the dye. Cover with enough water (I used the same vinegar-water solution, in which the yarn had soaked before).
6. Cover with the lid and place it in the microwave oven, set it to the max heat and cook the yarn for 2 min, let it rest for 2 min. Repeat these 2 min sessions 3-4 more times (I did a total of 4 repeats, 8 min total heating time). Do not exceed 15 min and be careful not to boil the water, otherwise the yarn will felt.
7. Leave the yarn in the casserole to cool. The water should be clear and all the dye should be in the yarn.
8. After the yarn has cooled enough (for at least 2 hours), wash it with warm water (the same temperature as the yarn) and liquid soap (Perwoll in my case). I soaked it afterward in warm water with a softener too.
9. Place the hank on a hanger and leave it to dry.
10. Wind it into a ball. I found a method, using a toilet paper roll and it's miraculously comfortable to use. Knit something nice and wear it!
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