Dye Results

It appears that yarn dyeing, like yoga, is one of those exercises designed to teach me patience, acceptance, and observation without judgement. (These, by the way, are not easy things for me.) It frustrates me when I have a vision of what I want and can’t predict the best way to achieve that vision. At the same time, it’s kind of fun to say “screw it!” and just see what happens. That’s what went on in my kitchen this weekend.

Dye Results | Woolen Diversions

I call this Splattered Turquoise.

If you remember from Friday’s post, I dyed this skein twisted up in the hank, more or less just to see what would happen. When I took it out of the pot, the whole thing was bright blue and I thought my little experiment had failed. But, when I unwound the hank, the undyed bits of natural grey/brown yak/silk were visible.

Dye Results | Woolen Diversions

Glamor shot.

I had been hoping to use this technique to achieve a gently variegated, speckled look… which I did not achieve. The turquoise was far brighter than I had anticipated (even at a depth-of-shade of only .25) and the variegation is not subtle at all. I think I will eventually overdye this with a pale green or a solid blue to get a lower contrast variegation and use it in a cowl or hat or something. Still not sure what I’ll do with the rest of the sweater quantity, perhaps just a DOS 0.10 solid overdye to give it some color, we’ll see.

Dye Results | Woolen Diversions

Silver Grey overdye… barely changed it at all.

My next plan was to overdye 2 skeins of BMFA Twisted (2 plies of Merino wool plied with 1 of superwash Merino (the darker strand)) to achieve a more subtle variegation for use in a sweater. The photo above shows a skein after using up my entire stock of Silver Grey. It barely made a difference! In fact, it really only seemed to affect the superwash strand strongly (superwash yarns take up dye at a faster rate than non-superwash). Turns out that a DOS of 1.5 is not very strong for such a light color dye.

Dye Results | Woolen Diversions

Back in the dyepot…

Back in the pot it went, this time with Midnight Black at a DOS of 0.25. I was hesitant to use a LOT of dye at once, because you can’t undye things, so the process took forever as I tried something, added more dye, checked results, added more dye, etc. The poor Faisco was getting a headache from suffering through basically an entire dye of vinegar/citric acid/dye mixtures simmering away on the stove.

Dye Results | Woolen Diversions

Dye results with DOS 0.25 black.

I think I’m happy enough with these results. The initial overdye with Silver Grey sort of dampened the colors a bit and changed their tone, and then the Midnight Black darkened them up overall. The yarn is still quite variegated, you can see the green/purple/pink/blue sections fairly clearly, but I think the overdye did make them more cohesive and hopefully more garment-appropriate. I don’t want to subject these skeins to any more dye, a couple strands are already starting to felt up a bit from all the boiling, so hopefully I’ll like it well enough when I swatch!

Have you tried dyeing your own yarn? How do you get to what you envision, or do you just throw caution to the wind and see what happens?


15 thoughts on “Dye Results

  1. I love dying, a lot, but I didn’t bring any of my dye stuff with me to Texas. All I ever use is food coloring and kool aid, and most times I just throw caution to the wind and mix a color, hoping it will work out. It usually does – not always what I expect. But it’s so fun to see results. I am glad you finally got the variegated yarn to where you like it enough. I hope it knits up well !


  2. Like LIsa, I typically use Kool Aid, food coloring and see what happens. But one tip I can give you – a crock pot. You can then put it outside, and not subject the family to the strange smells (like Kool Aid and vinegar!) But it should be one you don’t ever plan to use for cooking food in. 🙂


  3. I’m exactly the same way, very little patience (which is weird for a scientist, right?). So I generally just experiment, go wild! I love how this turned out though, and you captured it so beautifully!


  4. I don’t dye much but have great intentions. My experience so far is that much like a Jackson Pollock, it looks easy but is in fact a subtle skillful art that takes years to master. Oh well, I shall admire your beauties instead!


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  6. I’ve dyed (with food coloring) a few times before, but always in a very casual, one-off way, so I never kept track of any of the math. It was just, add color, wait for it to be exhausted, repeat as necessary. I’m surprised I never felted a skein! Now that I have more professional acid dyes and know about depth of shade, I should really go dig out some of my nicer skeins and try it again.

    In regards to your first skein, I wouldn’t be surprised if, since the turquoise was only exposed to part of the skein, the effective DOS was way higher. Your second came out very nicely!


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