dyeyouryarn.com blog

A blog for short bits about dyeing experiments, new food colors, where to get cheap supplies, dyers in the news, yarn hints and Kool tidbits that aren't full pages on DyeYourYarn.

Swatch It.. And Overdye It

The yarn looked great on the hank, but once the knitting started.. yuck.

I enjoy knitting with Joann Sensations "It's a Wrap".

And the yarn was on close-out, so I had quite a bit in my stash.

Into the dyepot. See the results here.

The lesson- don't knit with yarn in a color you detest. Overdye it.

Ice Globes

Spice up the snow drifts in your yard with colored ice globes.

Or make an easy ice sculpture for you next barbecue.

Put a drop of food color in a balloon, hold the balloon tight on the faucet, fill with water and freeze.

Ice cream pails, jello molds and plastic sleds with sides also make great ice molds.

The Case for Cakes

After you dye, there are three choices for storage : leave the yarn in a hank, wind into a ball or make a cake.

To make this cake, I used a travel-sized shampoo bottle to wind the yarn.

Other folks use a nostepinne or a recycled cardboard tube.

Cakes take up less space than balls.

And you can pull for the inside or the outside of the cake.

Turning a Sweater into Socks

For this project Dancejunky "used 131g left of recycled, fingering weight yarn, in a lambswool/angora blend. I plan to use it for stranded color work in a pair of socks."

"The recycled yarn is from a thrift-store sweater I unraveled, so the socks will have cost about $1.70 in materials. Yippee!"

Dancejunky's socks will be brown with a contrasting blue pattern.

The brown is 90g of yarn with about 2 tsp. Wilton brown.

"For my main color (brown), I simply made one large hank and dyed it in a soup pot on the stove. I kept the water to just under boiling and turned the yarn over occasionally but very gently, to keep the yarn from felting."

"I actually dyed the brown on 2 consecutive days, because it wasn't dark enough after the first try."

"I was surprised how much dye it took to get a saturated brown."

"After the yarn seemed to soak up most of the dye, I checked the water and found it was green! Uh oh. Leaving green behind suggested my yarn would come out rust rather than brown. I kept heating it and was happy to see that it absorbed the green, and then the water was clear."

The blue is 41g. dyed in a gradient with about 1/4 tsp. Wilton's royal blue.

"The gradient was dyed as connected mini-hanks. The yarn was held double, because I want matching socks from it. Each mini went into a ziplock bag, and all the bags stood upright in a bowl."

"I then added dyebath into the bags in an increasing amount and in order. That is, 1/4 c. dyebath for mini #1, 1/2 c. dyebath for mini #2, and so on."

"I topped each bag off with enough plain water that the minis would be submerged. I zapped the bags in the microwave for 5 min. at a time, with 5-min. rests in between, which turned out to be a mistake. The bags didn't hold up well (probably 5 min. was too long) and leaked into the bowl. Luckily, I still got a very nice gradient."

Use It Up Challenge

I have way too many boxes of "I was really into this craft, once. "

Boxes of "I found this unused kit for a dollar."

Cartons of "I might knit with this yarn again."

And tubs of "I felted this sweater and I should have unraveled it."

So, my challenge is to use it up in four months. If I don't my kids have four months to use it up.

Whatever remains will be donated to the thrift store or made into felted dog toys for the shelter.


Beginner's Luck? Absolutely Not!

Try not to drool too much over Sasknit's amazing hank and elegant cowl.

Her base yarn is Lion Brand Collection 100% pure wool.

Sasknits says "I dipped my fingers "in" two weekends ago with my first dyeing projects."
"Ended up re-dying this past weekend, the first skein, which dried too "pastelly" for me."

"Two blue baths later (don't ask me what mixes!!) I was happy with the finished colors."

"Here is my easy knit cowl with my first food coloring (McCormick's assorted and neon) yarn dye job. I am very pleased! I found a simple knit and purl pattern in the round which shows off the variegated yarn beautifully."

"I will never find enough yarn to dye, or beautiful things to knit. I am SO hooked!"

She concludes "This is fun and so easy! Thanks again! They say this fiber addiction works in reverse. First you learn to knit or crochet. Then you learn to dye your yarn, then you spin fleece, then you card the wool, then shear the  sheep then you buy the farm! It's all fun…"

".... if not for stumbling upon the dyeyouryarn site, I would never have had this happy experience, and now this "addiction!"

Dyeing Yarn Isn't Our Only Passion

This is my daughter, Hannahhat's, third year as captain of a 4H HorseBowl team.

HorseBowl tests knowledge about anatomy, behavior, training, showing, medical problems and the history of everything horsey.

Our county fielded four senior and a junior HorseBowl team and two DogBowl teams.  Teams placed 3 first places, 2 second, a third and a seventh.

Hannahhat's team took first place and will be going to the State HorseBowl in a few weeks.

Queen Food Colour

If you're a knitter or crocheter in Australia, you can dye your yarn too!

Helvic created these wonderful, saturated hanks using Queen brand food colouring.

Queen sells both natural and artificial colors. The natural colors may stain but they can't be used for dyeing.

You'll want to make sure the label lists artificial colours of 102(tartrazine), 104(quinoline yellow), 110(Sunset yellow), 122(carmoisine), 123(amaranth), 124(poncea), 127(erythrosine), 129(Allura red), 133 (brilliant blue), 142(green), 143(fast green), 151(brilliant black) or 155(brown).

Helvic created her hanks this way:
Red: Pillar Box Red and yellow (probably 2:1)
Blue: blue and black (lots of blue and tiny amount of black)
Green: yellow and green- probably 3:1

"The ties on the red wool were navy originally, but could very easily pass for black now they've been dyed with the red."

She adds "About the only thing I'd say about them is that Australians can use Queen with no issues that I've found (yet), and that the colours here were made on 8ply cream coloured wool."

No Niddy Noddy in the House?

There's lots of object in your house to wind yarn into hanks.

Here a sweater sleeve is being unravelled directly on to a cardboard noodle box.

The box makes a hank that fits perfectly in a oval glass bowl I use to dye in the microwave.

Other household goodies can also be used.

Storing Extra Dyebath

Did you mix too much Kool-Aid or food color and you'd like to keep it for a few weeks?

I've stored my left-overs in a glass jar in the refrigerator for three weeks with out mold growth.

To maximize storage time, scald the jar and lid. Then heat the dyebath to almost boiling.

Put a metal spoon in the jar and pour the dyebath in. The metal prevents the glass from cracking.

Allow to cool slightly, remove the spoon and cap the jar.

What To Do with Small Hanks

Make a striped hat.

This was my first project using Kool-Aid and Wilton, about 4 years before I started this blog.

The brim is made from a 50% wool 50% cotton reclaimed sweater. The stripes are mini hanks of Lion Brand Fishermen's wool.

Where in the World Are Dyers?

DyeYourYarn.com has viewers from an average of 70 countries a month.

Slightly less than 60 percent are from the United States.

Great Britain, Canada, Japan and China round out the top five.

We'd also like to greet dyers from Slovenia, Jamaica, Taiwan, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Brazil,  Bermuda, Ecuador and Hong Kong.

The top five pages are Kool-Aid formulas, McCormick formulas, our blog, Easter Egg dye, overdyeing, and Wilton formulas.

Shhhhh! They Hide Yarn in Scarves

A few years back, a group of ladies beat me in a sprint and grabbed all the yarn off the craft table at a church sale.

They scored bread bags of acrylic scraps for a dollar, and I got squat.

I happened to glance under the table at cardboard boxes full of gloves,  hats and ….. scarves.

Most looked like they were dragged under a school bus … but a few mixed fiber scarves were in good condition….

And one was made of hand-spun wool. A skein flowing from moss to cobalt to royal purple with delicate gray and white flecks.

Soft and swishy, never worn, nicely knitted and marked 25 cents.

That was the day my world changed just a bit.

Oh, Rats - Overdye Fail

I wanted a scrap scarf made with seven shades of purple.

My plan was to overdye orange yarn with Walmart's house brand of powdered grape drink mix.

Oh Joy, the hank looked great!

Until it dried.

As you can see from the photo, I managed to overdye the orange the exact shade of a purple that I already owned.

I guess it will be a scarf with six shades.

See other colors you can overdye orange, here .

Do the Birds Want Your Yarn?

Feed the birds, but think twice about giving them yarn.

We all have a box labeled "yarn too short to keep".

Then we notice the birds arriving in the spring.

Before you hang yarn in a suet feeder or sprinkle bits in the bushes consider:

Acrylic yarn encourages micro-organisms harmful to baby birds, according to a National Wildlife Federation video.

North American birds that will use yarn or string include a handful of "nice" birds but more often invasive Eurasian Tree Swallows, European Starlings and House Sparrows.

These bird species will destroy songbird eggs and even kill adults.

If you'd like to help songbirds with nesting materials, supply dried grass, moss, feathers and fur.

Softening Wool with Hair Conditioner

I have some lopi yarn that could be used as a Brillo pad. More like thin rope and full of sharp plant hulls and straw.

The theory goes - wool is sheep hair, people use conditioner on their hair, therefore conditioner will fix scratchy wool.

Using a tablespoon of cheap conditioner and warm water I let my scarf soak for two hours and hung it to dry without rinsing.

Softer, yes.

However, the yarn dyed with red Kool-Aid made the water ever so slightly pink.

And whatever purple dye the spinner used leaked out of the scarf and stained the bathtub as the scarf dried.

Neither of these yarns shed dye before being exposed to the conditioner.

So, test a sample of your yarn before you try any softening treatment.

Dyeing Silk with Kool-Aid

Guest dyer Dancejunky is going to show you how to dye silk yarn with Kool-Aid.

See how she turns this blue yarn into 600 yards of shiny, tonal wonderousness.

But beware, your silk yarn may turn out so jaw-dropping, eye-popping  and huggable that you never want to knit or crochet with it.

Go see our newest page featuring Dancejunky . 

Roxana's Crock Socks

See how to break black in the microwave.

This project has it all.

It's wool, it's dyed with Wilton black icing color, it's dyed in a crock pot AND….

Roxana knitted the skeins into these cozy yet bold socks!

Some people may sniff "why would you make socks, when you can by them at X-mart?"

Obviously, they've never worn custom made socks.

If you need a source for free circular sock machine patterns go visit Roxana's site


Low Immersion Dyeing in a Slow Cooker

Warning: DO NOT leave this project unattended.

 The Kool-Aid Option

Step 1 : Let the yarn soak overnight in water.

Step 2 : Put a quarter cup of warm water in the ceramic pot.

Step 3 : Don't squeeze any water out of the yarn. Arrange the yarn in the bottom off the ceramic pot.

Step 4 : Mix up the Kool-Aid with about 1/4 cup of water for each color.

Step 5 : Dribble the Kool-Aid by the spoonful on to the yarn.

Step 6 : Heat on low. Look through the lid every 5 minutes.

When the water in the bottom of the pot is clear then the hank is finished.

The yarn in the photo took less than 20 minutes.


The Food Color with Vinegar Option

 Step 1 : Soak the yarn overnight  in 4 cups of water with a  tablespoon of vinegar.

 Step 2 : Put a quarter cup of warm water in the ceramic pot.

 Step 3 : Don't squeeze any water out of the yarn. Arrange the yarn in the bottom off the ceramic pot.

 Step 4 : Dilute the food colors in about 3 tablespoons of water for each color.

 Step 5 : Dribble the diluted colors by the spoonful on to the yarn.

 Step 6 : Heat on low. Look through the lid every 5 minutes.

Cheap Knitting Tools

I bought all these lovely needles and hoops at a church sale for 37 cents.

Most likely the original owner tried unsuccessfully to garage sale the tools and the church sale folks didn't bother repricing them.

Church sales can be hit or miss.

I've found that churches in older neighborhoods are more likely to have a good supply of needles and acrylic yarn. Unfortunately, the ladies running the sale will know the value and overprice. (I don't pay two bucks for a ball of acrylic.)

Sales in the suburbs are feast or famine.

One year you might find cartons of wool yarn, the next year nothing, the next year a hundred vintage knitting booklets.

Just for the drool factor - the wool was 50 cents a full skein and the cashier threw in as many balls of acrylic as I wanted for free. The vintage knitting booklets were 25 cents each.

Frog Your Closet

Do you own a hand knit sweater in a luscious yarn but the style doesn't suit you?

Unravel the sweater and knit something you will wear.

The hardest part is letting go.

I once read a house decorating book that your house should reflect who you want to become, not who you were.

For some sweaters, it's a kindness to frog.

Is your yarn taking forever to dry? Here's 4 hints to dry yarn faster.

1. Give the hank a whirl in a salad spinner. Gently hand squeeze the hank and arrange the hank as equally as possible in the spinner basket. Hold the spinner over the sink cause a lot of water is going to fly out. If the spinner starts making a rasping noise, open it up and spread the hank out again.

We bought our spinner for less than 5 bucks. It cuts drying time in half. Squeeee!

2. Use wind power. Hang the yarn outside in a shady spot. I thread the hanks on a dowel and suspend it between two lawn chairs. Our neighborhood squirrels can't be trusted, so I put the chairs where I can see them out the kitchen window.

3. Are you using an electric dehumidifier in your basement? The fourth yarn, on this page which was dip dyed as a ball, would have taken 3 or 4 days to dry naturally. Placed in a shallow bowl on top of the dehumidifier, the ball was dry in less than 24 hours.

4. Forced air heating plus airflow deflectors equals toasty yarn. If your paying to keep your house warm, let your heater multi-task.

Here the yarn took a ride in the salad spinner, so it's dry enough to sit on a paper bag without wetting the carpet. For wetter yarn, I use a plastic craft mat.

Did the Bunny bring You Food Color?

Don't forget to visit the Easter aisle at the grocery for a few packs of Easter egg dyes. Even the smallest, cheapest boxes pack a lot of fun.

You might have experience with using the tablets as directed, but you'll be flabbergasted the scrumptious colors you can blend.

See our fabulous color mixing charts and directions .

Too much Acrylic Yarn?

 I have a garbage bag less after this project.

Here, I'm using a 12 peg Knifty Knitter loom and three strands of acrylic. With some occasional inclusion of novelty yarn scraps.

After you make a really, really long tube, coil it in an oval. Using a blunt needle, use a length of matching yarn to sew the tube into shape.

This project pre-dates the blog. My current projects fit in a knitting bag.

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