Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dyeing Yarn using Rice Soaked with Food Coloring

As Lucky would say, "Wait, What?"  Why on earth am I trying to dye yarn with food coloring absorbed rice?  When I dyed Easter Eggs for the first time there was a lot of left over food coloring.  I hate to waste food coloring!  I couldn't use the dyes mixed with glitter and oil for yarn, but what would happen if I tried to use this rice that had absorbed food coloring to dye yarn?  

I tried a few different ways to transfer the dye from the rice to the yarn.  First, I added dry yarn to the damp rice and shook it up.  Although the rice looked blue, I added both pink and blue food Easter egg dye tablets (dissolved in vinegar) to the rice when I was dyeing the eggs.  The first yarn looked blue, until I added it to a steam bath.  Then the yarn turned purple!  I was so surprised.  

I was really aggressive with the yarn.  I was rubbing rice all over 100% wool, and so I was definitely risking felting the fibers.  I wanted to try this again with less agitation to the fibers.

For the second yarn, I surrounded my yarn with rice in the steam basket itself.  I didn't want to agitate it but with the addition of water from the steam maybe some of the color would transfer.  

The resulting colors were really cool.  There is a lot of subtle speckling and light dusting of color along the yarn.  You can see that the pink dye must have all gone into the previous yarn, so we're left with a really pretty blue.  

The variation is super lovely, but do I recommend this technique?  No.  There was a lot of starch deposited on the yarn and it was hard to remove the remaining grains of rice from the fiber.  The yarn felt a bit stiff.  I used miniskeins for this dyeing project, but imagine trying to wash and remove rice from a full skein of yarn!  It was a lot of fun to do the experiment, but I don't think I'll be repeating it in the future.  Maybe I'll try to examine using other absorbent materials to transfer dye to the yarn, but hopefully something that would ONLY transfer the dye and nothing else.  Do you have any suggestions?