My friend Rita is the Queen of Yarn Dying. Really! She buys the ugliest (well, maybe unprettiest) skeins of wool sock yarn, takes them home to her dye pots, and produces exquisitely colored, beautiful yarns and projects crocheted and knitted with them. She started with kool-aid but has progressed to using other dyes, mostly food coloring. Since she starts with a yarn that is already imbued with color, she does not need to use more than one dye pot per skein. But, she has achieved some truly amazing color variations depending on the ‘dip’ of the yarn. The first dip will produce a yarn of the color of the kool-aid. However, the second or third dip of that same batch of dye results in different colors. A bright blue (BooBerry) first dip will produce a bright blue yarn. The second dip might produce something that is on the purple side. The third dip could be a dusty blue. She has a background in chemistry, so she theorizes that different pigments in the kool-aid powder are grabbed by the wool at different times. Once the bright blue pigment has been slurped up by the wool, the base color(s) remain and may be absorbed by the wool to achieve a different color. All theory – but correct theory or not, those are the results she obtains. And, the results are 100% of the time an improvement over the yarn colorway she started with.
I have been wanting to dye some yarn but I have a major problem. My kitchen is carpeted! (Don’t ask.) I am so afraid I’ll wind up with a huge indelible patch of blue in the middle of my brown and gray carpet. That would be hard to live with and even more difficult to fix. So, I enjoy yarn dyeing vicariously through Rita and her frequent dye pot experiments.
But, not being able to do it myself has not prevented me from researching this subject. Stay tuned and you’ll soon see some of Rita’s handy work and some more information about using various dyes to improve your yarns.
By jd wolfe