Dyeing yarn with Cheryl using Cushingís "Perfection" Dyes
Sept. 29, 2014
Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece
by Gail Callahan
Pictures & Copy by: Michelle Bowman
Soak yarn in a tub in a 1:5 vinegar to water solution for about 30 minutes. (Make sure the yarn is tied at a few places along the length, so it wonít tangle.) Do not discard this bath liquid after soaking the yarn; youíll need it later.
While the yarn is soaking; mix up your dyes. For stock solution, put the entire packet of dye powder in a jar. Measure out one cup of warm water, and add it a little bit at a time to the jar, then put the lid on and swirl the contents to help dissolve the dye. After all the water has been added, add one cup of white vinegar to the jar. This dye solution will be good for several weeks. One packet will dye 8 oz of yarn to the given depth of shade. Add equal amounts of vinegar and water to make lighter shades.
A word should be said about not inhaling the dye powder. The paper particulate masks are never a bad idea. Youíre safe from inhaling the dye once the powders are in solution.
Cheryl taped the packet that the dye came in to the jar to mark its contents. She also put a drop of dye onto bits of white paper taped to the jars to show the color.
Next, lay out a length of plastic wrap longer than your hank of yarn over your workspace. Then, arrange your jars in the order you want to apply them to the yarn. Each jar should have its own brush.
Once soaking time has elapsed, remove the yarn from the bath and squeeze the liquid out. Donít twist the yarn, and donít worry about squeezing all the liquid out just try to remove enough so that the yarn is not dripping.
Lay the yarn out on the plastic wrap.
Using brushes, begin to paint the dye onto the yarn.
You want to work quickly; if the dye dries out, the bonding process stops.
If you want to blend colors, leave some space between areas of color.
Paint on enough dye to color the fiber, but not so much that you have a puddle.
Practice will show you how much the dye will travel through the fiber.
Think ahead, and plan your color progression, especially if you are going to use a lot of colors in one skein.
You could make sure the ties that hold the yarn together are measured out and evenly spaced,
then use them to mark where your color changes happen.
Remember that the yarn is compacted at these ties, so the ties act as a resist to the dye.
You will have to pay extra attention and be sure the dye soaks through evenly at these spots.
With the hanks we were using, we planned to place the 7-color pattern three times around the length of the hank.
So, place the first color on three areas spaced equally apart.
Then, apply the next color, leaving a space between the two colors.
Next, go back in and take care of the uncolored areas.
You can either add color a bit at a time to Ďnudgeí the colors up next to each other,
or you can do a mix of them to create a transition.
Be careful not to pollute your stock solution with brushes that have touched another color,
especially if a dark color and a light one are next to each other.
(You could pour off some of the dye into another dish to use for blending.)
Check your project over quickly to look for any white areas on this side.
The colors will blend during their time in the microwave, but you should try to catch undyed spots as best you can.
Pay attention to areas with lighter colors &emDash; itís a bit harder to catch white spots there. Then, grab the hank by both ends and flip it over.
Paint this side of the hank, matching the colors from the other side.
Then, inspect the plastic for any drips and wipe those up, so that they donít make an unintended stain on the yarn.
Next, we wrap up the yarn in the plastic.
Pull up the edges of the plastic on one long side and wrap it around the closest side of the hank, tucking it under.
Squeeze the wrapped yarn a bit now, to help the dye get through all the layers of yarn.
Check for any stray drips of dye, then wrap up the other long side and squeeze the yarn on that side.
Then, move to one end of the hank and fold over the plastic on that end and squeeze the yarn a bit there,
then do the same at the other end.
Then, starting at one end, roll up the yarn into a bundle,
so it looks like a colorful snail or a cinnamon roll.
You donít want it too tight, because the air inside the plastic wrap needs room to expand.
You donít want it too loose, either, or the bundle will fall apart.
Place the bundle in a microwave-safe dish.
If you stand the roll up, you can get two hanks into a square dish.
On the high power setting, microwave the yarn for 6 minutes for one hank (2 oz),
or 12 minutes for two hanks (4 oz).
Keep an eye on the project while itís cooking.
If the plastic looks like itís going to burst, stop the microwave and open the door to let some of the steam escape.
You do want to get the full amount of time in, or the dye wonít strike fully
(especially blends of dye, since some colors strike faster than others).
But, you donít want to burn your fiber either.
Just keep an eye on it, and pay attention to how it smells,
and do the cooking in increments if needed.
Once the cooking is done, bring the yarn to the rinsing area and unwrap it.
We did this by unwrapping the bundles at the sink and hanging them over the faucet.
Theyíll be hot!
Then, put the yarn back into the 1:5 vinegar/water bath to rinse out any excess dye.
There shouldnít be a lot at all, unless you really made your yarn very wet.
There was probably a lot of liquid in the bottom of your dish if you did that.
If there is a lot of color in the rinse water, you should pour it out and
make a new batch of rinse water, then rinse your yarn again.
Cheryl also does a last rinse with a little bit of hair conditioner;
Eucalan is also good.
Hang the hanks up to air dry.
Cheryl has a slat board with pegs that worked great!
A Big Thanks To
Michelle took the pictures and wrote the content of this presentation.