Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dyeing Wool-Ease Yarn with Food Coloring - 4

Time to finish up dying the excess Fisherman Wool-Ease Yarn (20% Wool, 80% Acrylic) for my big needle blanket.

Before dyeing, make sure you soak the yarn in water until it is thoroughly soaked. (Unless you want to TRY to make the dye absorb unevenly.) Since this yarn is not 100% wool, the colors will come out muted/more pastel than if you were to use a 100% natural fiber. If you look at the individual strands, you can see the fibers that were colored versus the acrylic ones that remain mostly unchanged. This gives the finished project a heathered look, one that I happen to enjoy.

Red to Pink Gradient
  • Create a dye-bath with 1 packet Kool-Aid Pink Lemonade
  • Add 20 drops red, 5 drops NEON Pink and 5 drops of NEON Purple
Bring the dye-bath to a boil, then turn off the heat. Using a pre-soaked skein, dip an end of the skein into the bath and wait 1 minute. Slowly, minute by minute, increase the amount of yarn that is in the dye-bath (about 1/4 of the skein at a time). The final dip should be very fast so only the slightest amount of color goes to the skein The dye-bath will not run clear because you want the later dipped sections to have a lighter orange color, and you're not going to let it soak that long. Remove the skein from the dye-bath and allow it to cool. Wash the completed skein in mild soap and luke warm water. Hang to dry.

Pink #2
  • Use the remaining dye-bath from the above gradient
Bring the dye-bath to a boil, turn off the heat and add the pre-soaked skein. Allow the skein to soak in the dye-bath until the color has absorbed to the yarn. Remove the skein from the dye-bath and allow it to cool. Wash the completed skein in mild soap and luke warm water. Hang to dry.

  • I started with the remaining dye-bath from above. There was still a fair amount of pink left in the dye-bath.
  • 5 drops blue, 5 neon purple
Ah the "elusive" purple. Purple takes a while because red absorbs to wool before the blue, for reasons I have not found a scientific explanation for yet. I believe, based on experience, that if you have too much dye present, you can over dye the yarn with the reds in the solution before the blues can bind to create the color you want. This color takes patience. Keeping the dye-bath on low heat (not even at a simmering level) could be helpful since this takes longer than some of the other colors.

Green Gradient Colorway
  • The great thing about doing multiple colors in one day is that you can keep re-using the same dye-bath that has been cleared of color, just add more dye and water if necessary.
  • 10 green drops, 5 NEON green
I brought the dye-bath to a boil, and allowed it to simmer during dyeing, much like in the pink gradient. This time I dipped the skin in thirds, allowing the final third to be in the dyebath for less than a minute. The portions in the dye-bath the longest have the most color. The gradient is subtle, and would likely be more pronounced if I had been using 100% wool. Allow the skein to cool to the touch, wash with mild soap and luke warm water, and hang to dry.

Green #2

  • Used the water from the previous dye-bath
  • 5 drops green, 5 drops NEON green food coloring
I didn't wring out the cool water from the pre-soaking when I added the skein into the boiling dye-bath. I was curious whether the color would come out even. This really had no effect on the color, it was pretty even over the entire skein. I may try this again with 100% wool. I see more variation in the color in those cases (you can tell the "dye lot" more) probably because there is more fiber to absorb to. Since 80% of the yarn I was dying today does not take dye, it make subtle differences in how the color absorbs to the fiber less noticeable.

Comparison of the greens. Gradient on the left, straight on the right.