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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

my new favorate hobby

Anyone who knows me, or really knows a lot about me knows that I would much rather do things for myself. I see something I want- I dont buy it, I make it! So when I started knitting last year (can you believe it has been a year?!? I cant!) I was always on the lookout for the cutest yarns out there. (When you have a little girl it is all about cute right?) Well thats the big problem- they dont sell 'cute' yarns that dont cost $18 a skeen...

So here comes the solution- dye your own yarn! This way you get exactly the color combos you like and it turns out MUCH much MuCh cuter!

A couple of days ago I went to Micheals and bought a skeen of natural colored patons wool on sale for about $4.

I came home, unwound it and wound it around the bottom of my laundry basket so that it could be dyed. Once it is all wound you need to tie it in 4 places so it doesnt get tangeled!

Next you need to put newspaper down to protect your counter. On top of the newspaper you need to lay down seran wrap.

Now you fill your sink or a bowl with some lukewarm water and put your yarn into the water to soak while you get ready.

There are a couple of things you can use for dye. Obviosly you can buy expensive acid dyes, but no thanks! I use Koolaid, food coloring, Wiltons cake dyes and easter egg colors. The easter egg dyes are much lighter and give more of a pastel coloring, while the Wiltons and koolaid can be VERY bright and fun! I usually just substitute the food coloring when my color isnt quite what I want it to be, but you can dye exclusively with it if you want to! You will need about 1/4-1/2 cup hot water and 2 cups of vinager per color you want to try also.

What I do is pour in about 1/4 cup boiling hot water into the bottom of my glass and mix in my coloring. (Either 1 tablet of easter egg dye, about 20-30 drops of food coloring, a 1/2 teapoon of wiltons cake dye or a package of koolaid) Once your dye is completely mixed up, fill the cup the rest of the way up with Vinager. (The acid is what makes the color stick to the yarn!)Now pull your yarn out of the water and squeeze it gently- you dont want it dripping wet, but it needs to be damp so that you need less water to saturate it with your dye! Set it nicley on your newspaper and seran wrap like shown above.

Now you are ready to dye! I have tried lots and lots of meathods, but my favorate lately is the tablespoon meathod! I just take a tablespoon measuring spoon and scoop big spoonfuls of dye out and put it on my yarn. You want to make sure you are saturating it all the way through or the bottom half will not be colored! If you get big puddles wipe them up! I use an old prefold baby diaper, because honestly, they look better tie dyed than stained! hehe. Before you start dying you might want to think about how you want your pattern. Bigger sections of dye will make the verigation longer and may result in pooling when you knit. I like to do more smaller sections! The sky is the limit- it is pretty hard to mess up! 1 huge tip I do have though is to put complimentry colors next to each other or you might get some muddy weird colors when they dye together!

Once all your yarn is colored and you make sure it is saturated all the way through you put a piece of seran wrap on the top middle across and fold up the corners that are under your yarn. You want to make a sealed pouch so all your dye and liquid doesnt escape! Now find a pie pan or caserole dish. I have found out the hard way more than once that the deeper the pan, the easier it works- then your microwave wont be covered in blue green water..... Carefully fold your colors over and place in bottom of dish and pop into microwave for 10 minutes.Now your husband will start complaining because the vinager is.... well.... sometimes more than overwelming! As the dye 'cooks' into your yarn it will leave the vinager clear again! It really is VERY cool! While you are patiently waiting the 10 minutes you can fill your sink up with hot water and a little bit of dish soap. Once the time is up you will carefully take the pot out of the microwave, carefully flip over the packet and let it sit for a few minutes (I like to do 2 skeens because it gives me enough time to dye another skeen while I wait the 10 minutes and then it can rest 10 while the new one is in there cooking and then I switch.)

Now you can rinse it out- but I like to do 10 more minutes just to make certain the colors are VERY dark and set!

Once your time is done you can carefully take the packet out and gently pour out the vinager down your sink and then place the dyed yarn into the sink of hot soapy water.

Let the yarn sit in this water for about 5-10 minutes. You dont want to shock your wool, which is why you want the water HOT, and then you can turn the faucet on as warm as you can stand it and gently wash the soap out of the yarn by squeezing small sections. Now gently squeeze out all the excess water and admire your work!

Now I like to throw mine into the spin cycle of my washing machine. watch SO carefully because if the actual wash cycle comes on, well your work is as good as ruined! Now once it has spun some of the water out you can go ahead and hang it up to dry overnight!

After waiting all night and wondering what it will look like you can run downstairs and admire your work! I like to roll mine into a ball right away because that is how I like to work with it, but you can leave it skeened like this or wrap it around something smaller so you can see all the colors together!

Now you are ready to make something amazing!

Have any of your tried this, want to try this, interested at all?


  1. I wish I could follow you twice, I really like this blog. I wish I was dedicated to making clothes like you. I love this new idea.
    I have been knitting one thing for over two years and I haven't reach the middle yet.
    I will show this post to my mother in law. When I am p. I would like her to knit as many pretty as she can possibly do.
    xxx MsBabyPlan

  2. Wow, those turned out BEAUTIFUL! You are such a crafty and frugal woman.

  3. OH MY GOODNESS!! You freaking rock!! I wish I was more crafty!! I need to check out your shop again now that I'm having a girl!! Woohoo!!!

  4. Josie, that is just amazing. I had no idea you could dye yarn with Kool-aid.

    Now I'm curious about washing the finished garment, such as socks or longies...can you just throw them in the washing machine or do you have to wash by hand? Does the colour stay forever?

    Josie, you rock. I always admire someone who just takes charge and figures things out for themselves.

  5. Holy cow.......That is all I have to say is WOW. You rock.....

  6. Very impressive! I never even thought about dying yarn, but you make it sound easy. (Well, easy for you, but it would probably take me a while to perfect it.) :)

  7. Trying this tonight...hope it works out!!! I'm so excited (and such a nerd lol).


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