May 26, 2007

multi-colored custom yarn with kool-aid, part 2!!

Update 2/25/2010: I’m doing a new dyeing tutorial, and decided I’ve learned so much and changed my methods over the years that I should edit these old posts a bit, so the basics here are original, but some minor details are changed…

ok part 2: complicated multi-colored self-striping yarn! so after i made that variegated yarn i explained in part 1, i had ideas to take it further – i started to design a kool-aid dyed yarn that would have looong sections of different colors, with one base hue, and the other shades rotating randomly. my first attempt at this concept involved yarn wound into a hank around chairs at opposite ends of my (small) apt, and extreme tangling throughout the dyeing process. this resulted in way-too-long color sections (much wider stripes than i’d wanted) and because i didn’t quite know what i was doing, the colors weren’t random at all. i had the base light blue, with a bunch of red stripes, then a bunch of green stripes, then a few orange stripes at the end. so, i took what i’d learned with that failed string of ideas, and came up with a successful process! which i will now share with you!!

if you are new to dyeing, first read my part 1 post and check out some of the tutorials i linked to. you’ll want the basic dyeing process to be familiar to you before trying this striped yarn. i am not going to go into detail about things like heating, rinsing, etc in this tutorial because i went over that stuff in part 1.

i’m a very visual thinker/learner, so it’s hard for me to explain some things with words; hopefully the photos will clear up any parts that are confusing. (and you can click on all the photos to see them bigger on flickr.) here’s a photo of the yarn i made:

kool-aid dyed yarn 4/23

and here is how it knit up:

dyedyarnhat.jpg sleevecloseup.jpg

now we start! first wrap the yarn around two chairs (or anything else that will work), making the hank as big as you want depending on how long/wide you want the stripes. now here’s how you make the stripes random: when winding, on one side, wrap the yarn in a different spot on the chair each time (top, bottom, middle) and make sure you’re doing it randomly, or in order if you want the stripes in order. oh, and i put a towel on that side so the yarn would stay in place. here’s how it looked:

tut01.jpg tut02.jpg

when it’s all wound, divide the yarn into sections – each section will be one color, so do as many as you want. now use scrap yarn pieces (preferably cotton) to tie all the yarn together somewhere in the middle of the chairs on each side. this will determine how long your stripes are – if you tie right in the middle, then the base color and random color sections will be almost the same length. if you want mostly the base color with small spurts of random colors, then tie close to the divided sections. the stripe dye will not go quite all the way to the ties, so keep that in mind. tie in a figure 8 tight enough to hold, but loose enough for the dye to get to the yarn.

tut03.jpg tut05.jpg

now, move the chairs a little closer together and tie the top section together just before the points where all the yarn is tied. this is kind of hard to explain but hopefully the picture will make it clear. do this with each section.


when everything is tied, you can take it all off the chairs and it should look something like this:

tut06.jpg tut07.jpg

i didn’t do this in this example, but if you don’t want extreme tangling, you really need to tie it in more spots – a couple spots in each of the different color sections (figure 8’s just like the other ties), and a few more spots on the other side.  all these ties will the keep the yarn in order and make you much happier when balling it up.

ok now it’s ready to dye! prepare your stovetop with one large pot for dyeing the sections, and two big bowls/pots to hold the rest of the yarn. i used a mixing bowl for the dry yarn, and a pot for the wet, dyed yarn. put all the yarn in the bowl, some water in the dye pot, and submerge one stripe section in the water. mix your first color while it’s soaking.

another thing you should probably do differently than i did here – the yarn will take up the dye best if you soak it first, for about a half hour.  for this yarn, i just let each different color section soak for about ten minutes before adding the dye, which works, but then you’re adding more time to the dyeing process, whereas just soaking all the yarn at once beforehand would allow you to dye one after another without soaking each separately.

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after soaking, heat and add the kool-aid, simmer until the dye is absorbed into the yarn:

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when it’s fully absorbed, lift out the yarn with a spoon and into the third pot/bowl. freshen the dye pot water (add more water if you need to), and submerge your next section. (excuse the color change in the photo)

tut12.jpg tut13.jpg

now repeat for each stripe section. when adding new colors into the third pot, put the darker shades on the bottom just in case of color dripping (the colors shouldn’t drip/bleed but better safe than sorry).  note: if the yarn fully absorbs the dye, there will be no bleeding – so if there is bleeding, you didn’t let it simmer long enough.


ok when all the stripe sections are dyed, you can dye the base color (if you want to). i actually regretted dyeing the base with my yarn; i had wanted just a neutral brownish kind of shade, and it ended up much pinker than i wanted, so i would have preferred the original grey shade. so, be careful because the base color will really determine how your final yarn looks. dye right up to the edges of the stripe colors, but beware of overlapping colors, especially if you’re using complimentary shades that won’t look good when mixed.
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when all is dyed, pour everything into the colander and let cool completely to room temperate, then rinse.

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squeeze out water, then roll in a towel and step the water out. carefully detangle the yarn now and hang it to dry overnight.
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when it’s dry, put it back over the chairs, untie all the ties, spread it out on both ends, and carefully wind it into a ball.



yay! hope that all made sense. if anyone out there uses this tutorial, i would love to see your yarn!!

Filed under: general crafts,photos,tutorials,yarn — leethal @ 3:21 pm
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