Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Project - Hand Dyed Cotton Yarn

Dying cotton yarn is really easy and allows you to have a much wider range of colors than are available at your local stores.

Materials List:
*skeins of cotton yarn, such as Sugar and Cream or
Peaches and Cream are usually easy to find in stores.  If you want to order cotton yarn, I love KnitPicks yarn in any fiber.
*Procion Fiber Reactive Dye
*soda ash
*non-iodized salt
*plastic gloves
*squeeze bottles
*sealable plastic bag
*measuring utensils used only for dying (not cooking)
*respiratory mask
*rags or paper towels

I buy my dye materials on-line from Dharma Trading Company.  If you want to dye your yarn a solid color, follow the directions in the Fabric Dying post here.  The method we'll use for hand dying a variegated yarn is similar to the method I use for tie-dying fabric, so you might want to look at that post here for more details and explanations.

1.  Before either method of dying, you need to unwind the ball of yarn into a looped skein.  This loosens up the yarn and lets the dye reach everywhere.  If my husband's busy, I turn the piano stool upside down and wind the yarn around the legs. 

There are tools, called "swifts," you can buy to help you with this. 

2.  Once you have your yarn in a large loop, it needs to be tied in several places to keep it from getting all tangled up.  I tie the ends together and tie the loop in several places using a figure 8 tie.  Even though the skein is tied, you still need to be careful to keep from tangling it.

3.  Add 1/2 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of water (wear your mask) and put your yarn in to soak for about 20 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, mix your squeeze bottles of dye.  I'm using Peach and Coral Pink.

For a medium color, use 2 to 8 tsp. of powdered dye per 8 oz. of water (use your face mask).  The dyes without a * by them in the catalog use 2 tsp.  The dyes with a * by them use 4 tsp., and the dyes with ** next to them use 8 tsp.  I use a Sharpie and write this on top of the dye containers when I get them so I don't have to keep looking up which ones have how many *'s.

If you want a lighter color, use less dye.  My colors turned out darker than I originally wanted - to get the lighter color I had in mind, I would use less dye next time.  As it worked out, I love what I ended up with!

5.  Squeeze the excess soda water from your yarn (wear gloves) and lay the skein on a rack over a tub.

6.  I'm going to dye both ends and the middle with peach and then make coral pink stripes on each peach end.

Put the nozzle of the squeeze bottle into the yarn and slowly begin squeezing the dye out.  Go slowly and try to make sure as much of the dye as possible ends up in the yarn - you'll just be throwing out any dye that makes it to the tub.

7.  Turn the yarn over and fill in any needed areas on the back.

8.  See how my dye in the photo above is beginning to run together covering up most of the off white yarn?  If I wanted a lot of the original color of yarn to remain between the stripes of dyed color, I would have needed to use paper towels to soak up the extra color from the ends of the stripes.

9.  Put in a zip top bag for around 24 hours.

10.  The next day, gently handwash in a detergent such as Synthrapol or Dharma's Textile Detergent.  Rinse well.

11.  Hang to dry.

12.  Roll into a ball before you begin using it.

In a couple of weeks, you'll see what I'm up to with my hand dyed cotton yarn!

Happy Creating!  Deborah


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