Thursday, January 1, 2015

Dyeing Yarn with stuff you find in your supermarket!

I had this idea to create a blanket that had 3 panels (which were actually just 3 garter stitch scarves) that were stitched together to form 1 blanket. The border of the blanket was left white (the original color of the wool).

1. Get your wool! The yarn must be WOOL for dying (or at least wool absorbs the color best). Your yarn will NOT absorb as much color if you use an acrylic blend. I have always been found of Patons. It can be found at most major craft stores and the price is right (in case you make a happy accident).

2. Get your dyes and mordants! Now this is the fun part. I went to 3 ethnic stores to find my dyes, an Indian, Mexican, and Japanese. I found 5 different fruits/veggies/spices that I thought could be made into a dye. Tumeric and the Cactus Fruit gave the best colors by far!

Mordants are needed to join the fiber with the dye. If you don't use a mordant your dye can wash out. I used Alum and Cream of Tartar which can both be bought in the spice aisle of most super markets, you can also buy more specialized mordants on amazon. You can reference the EarthGuild for more information on different Mordants.

I would actually love to use dyes found in my environment. I live in a desert-like climate in Socal so that could be really interesting! I just got this book which gives awesome plants/berries to use! Here is one of my new favorite natural dyeing books Harvesting Color!

3. Now you need to make a decision here. Do you want to dye the whole piece of fabric already knitted? OR do you want to dye the yarn and THEN knit it?

I think if you dye the fabric already knitted (like I did) you risk some areas not absorbing the color as much because of parts of the yarn not being exposed to the mordant and dye. However I really wanted to achieve a gradient of color by dipping the different parts of the fabric in the dye. This I think would be much more difficult to do if the yarn was not preknitted.

4. Before you dye the wool you must prepare it using the Mordant. Pre-soak your yarn for 1 hour. In a large seperate pot combine the proper amount of Alum and Cream of Tartar, boil and gently place yarn of fabric into the pot. I did this for about 1 hour. Do NOT swish or agitate the yarn or it will start to felt.

5. NOW for the COLOR! Your yarn is ready! Are you? Get your ingredients together and prepare to make them into gooey ooey mushes! I used a mortar and pestle to help along the way. I would smash until I started to get some good juice going, making it as concentrated as possible. Then I would put the mush through a mesh sieve and put the liquid into a small pot. Then I added as little water as possible to dye the amount of yarn I needed. I wanted the color to be concentrated. Below is Chili Peppers! SPICY!

6. Leave the yarn in the DYE for 30 minutes, the longer the better! Then take out and dry in a shady but warm area.

Well those are the notes I have for now! I am hoping to try some new dying techniques soon. I hope you'll give it a shot and if you have any questions just leave a comment or send a message! You can DYE it!