March 17, 2010

Make long stripes in your hand-dyed yarn!

Here it is, part 4 of my yarn dyeing tutorial series!  This is probably a good place to announce, my next big project (not counting all the smaller projects I’m currently working on) is a yarn dyeing ebook!  I’m guessing the release date will be around late summer, and it will be awesome, seriously.  Everything you could ever possibly want to know about dyeing yarn the way I do it, plus a bunch of knitting patterns designed to work especially well with hand-dyed… it will rock. hard.

This how-to is just for the striping, not the dyeing itself – for how to dye, see my recent part 3 post, and my old part 1 and part 2 dyeing tutorials, plus the other sites I linked to, and a bunch of questions and answers in the comments of part 3.  If you’ve never dyed, I strongly encourage you to dye up a couple skeins of solid or simple variegated yarn before going for the long stripes!  And here we go…

knit up preview Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Place two chairs facing each other, as far apart as you want for your stripes.  My yarn is dyed with suuuper long stripes (I think around 12 yards), so it was wound across my whole apartment – from the corner of the living room to the end of the dining room (granted, my apt is small).  You can make the stripes as long as you want, but this tutorial is kind of optimized for long stripes…

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

It’s easier to keep your yarn in place with towels around the chairs, so it doesn’t slide.  On one of the chairs, wrap the yarn in sections – I wanted 5 colors striping, so there are 5 sections.  Wind the yarn around the back of one chair, over to the other chair, around the back, and back over to the first – it’s just like winding yarn around your knees or a swift, but just longer, in a huge loop.  On one chair, keep it in order in the sections (wind from top to bottom, and repeat), and the other chair can just be all in one big section.  (Careful with cats, they like yarn you know.)

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Tie each of the sections together behind the chair – I color coded mine because I wanted to dye them in a certain color order.  If you don’t care about the order, don’t worry about color coding (and if you’re not lucky enough to find scraps of yarn in each of the colors you’re dyeing, you can just use whatever scraps you can find and write down a key, like black=blue, etc).  Then carefully take off the top section loop and wind it over to the other chair, or just kind of fold it, however you can keep it from getting all tangled.

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Tie the yarn together in the back of the other chair, in a figure 8, holding all the yarn securely – this will be where the colors change.  Then tie that first section into a kind of hank, close to the back tie…  Repeat for each section, carefully making 5 (or however many sections you have) different hanks, all attached together at the top:

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

If you dye them like that, you’ll get major tangling problems later, so you’ll want to add a couple more ties to each hank section – it doesn’t really matter how you tie them, as long as it holds the yarn in place, but not too tightly…

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Now soak your yarn and get ready to dye!  For a little color-mixing bonus info, I wanted to tone down my kool-aid colors a wee bit, so I blended them in shot glasses… I was using Lemon Lime, Berry Blue, Strawberry, Orange, and Lemonade (the exact same 5 colors used in my crock pot yarn) – I mixed a little green into the orange, a little orange into the green, a little green into the blue, a little orange into the yellow, and a little blue into the red.  There’s not a huge difference, but if I were to compare my colors to the straight-from-the-packets colors, you’d probably see it…

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

I dyed this yarn on the stove top, which I think is easiest for this kind of striping – you could use microwave or crock pot methods if you prefer.  You’ll need to set up your dye pot (heat up the water before adding yarn and dye), a bowl with your pre-soaked yarn, and another bowl – I like putting a colander in the other bowl, which helps the yarn cool faster.  Take the first section you want to dye and place it in the heated dye pot, submerging it right up to the edge where all the sections are tied together, but make sure no yarn from the other sections touches the water.

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Add color and dye the first section, then lift it out with a spoon (or tongs) and place it into the other bowl (or colander).  Place the next section into the dye pot, and repeat for each section, always being careful to dye up to the end, but not into the other sections.  When dyeing the last color, you can try to fill in any spots that didn’t get dyed from the other sections – I dyed yellow last for this reason, since yellow overlapping with other colors wouldn’t be a problem.

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Once it’s cooled, rinsed, and squeezed dry, try to get it all untangled the best you can and hang to dry for a day or two.  When dry, replicate the way it was wound on the chairs.  Start with the side where the colors meet, then untie one section at a time and loop it onto the other chair.  Then hand-wind it all up into a ball – you’ll have to weave it through the loop sometimes to untangle parts, so trying to wind it into a hank instead of a ball can be disastrous (I know from experience)!

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Now you have a big, awesome ball of striping yarn! Yay!


Wind it into a hank if you want to photograph it or keep it around for awhile before knitting or crocheting (or weaving) it up…

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing! Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

Mine knit up in these big fat stripes! Fun!  This is a hat – of course, if knitting something like a sweater, the stripes would be more narrow, and on something like mittens, they would be much wider… and, on a finer weight yarn, they’d be more narrow too…  (By the way, my base yarn is Imperial Stock Ranch’s bulky Lopi wool.)

Self-Striped Yarn Dyeing!

I’d love to see your yarn!  Have fun!

Filed under: self-publishing,tutorials,yarn — leethal @ 7:35 pm
  • lindamade

    lee, this is awesome! i'd love to do this sometime because my major groan is that many colorways simply aren't long enough for crocheters. question– do you need to rinse out the dye pot and add the different dye for each yarn section each time you change colors or is there some magical thing i'm not thinking of?

  • Lee

    ooh yeah I never thought of that, about crochet! rad!

    You shouldn't need to change the water in the dye pot because the dye should all absorb into the yarn and leave you with clear water. Sometimes the water never gets completely clear, so you can decide whether to leave it, so the old color might mix a little with the new, or to change the water and reheat it.

    I planned my color dyeing order with this in mind – so I dyed the green first, then blue, because those mix well, then red (since blue+red mix well), then orange, then yellow… that way I never had to worry about a wee bit of color left in the water.

  • lindamade

    great! i thought it might be something like that but it's been a long time since I dyed something. i'm filing it away in my “one day” file!

  • I've been wanting to do this for such a long time. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Wow! I can't wait to try this one. I did a stripe-dying from an old tute you did, with winding on the chairs and such, but you didn't put it into separate hanks like this. I've been wanting to do a wide-striping yarn for awhile.
    And an e-book of your dyeing techniques would be awesome. I'll be waiting!

  • sandra

    sou brasileira e hoje acordei com vontade de aprender sou “louca” e “metamorfa” como voce e adorei seu metodo de tingimento, vou fazer com certeza.
    adorei seu blog

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  • Awesome! I’m in the middle of trying this method, but I think I’m going to end up with a big tangled mess. Do you have any video tutorials? Specifically how you get the yarn off the chair and into the 5 separate “hank” sections?

  • Lee

    no video tutorials…. the important things are to wind it on the chairs in the first place in the 5 separate sections (around 1 chair it will all be together in one section, around the other chair, the sections should be separated, like you can see in those top photos), and to tie all the sections together in multiple places before taking them off the chairs. As long as they are tied together, and all the yarn is tied together where it all meets (around the other chair), you shouldn’t have a tangled mess. Then, one at a time, lift the separated end off the chair, and twist/fold it into a neat hank-looking bunch… exactly how it’s done shouldn’t matter, but just tie it together well – the more ties, the less possibility of tangle, so if you’re really worried about tangling, tie each “hank” section in several spots.

    I hope that helps? Maybe I should do video tutorials at some point…

  • That helps! Thank you! I think my downfall is that I didn’t tie all the strands together on the second chair. I did the 5 sections, but not the other one. Hopefully I’ll still be able to unravel them!!but next time I’ll do it right!! haha, thanks Lee!!

  • Pamela Bourque

    what about an enormous project? say, a 1500 yd cone? hmnnn….. I wonder if it would fit in a crawfish pot?

  • Seanah Lebed

    Do you wind all of section 1 before you move to the next section? Or do you wind 1,2,3,4,5 and then back to the top?

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