Experiments in Plant Dyeing




I am one of the photographers here at KnitPicks and
since I
have started working here I have been verrrry slowly learning how to
knit. When
I heard about the dye along I thought great! an excuse to not only pick
up my
needles again but I can try out a new craft, dyeing. I have only
tie-dyed so I really
had no idea what I was doing. After a couple of talks with the girls
here and reading through the very helpful book Natural Dyeing I decided
to try
my hand at some plant dyeing. My goal was to use only plants/flowers
that I
gathered from around my house but the loooong rainy May we have been
nixed that idea.


So Many Layers of Dye

I’ve been talking about overdyeing a lot for the last weeek, but
today I want to share the results of a dye project I did on Bare yarn.
I’ve been admiring Kristen Rengren’s Zora
Cardigan ever since the design was published last winter, and really
want to make one this summer. I love the effect of the hand-dyed yarn
in the original, too, and didn’t have anything like that in my stash in
the right quantity, but I also have too much stash (and not enough in the budget!) to justify buying so much yarn for a new sweater!

I did, however, have 5 skeins of our Bare Merino/silk yarn just waiting to be dye projects.

what it looked like after the FIRST round of dyeing. I had to go
through two more to get what I wanted! Read on to find out more…


Further Variations on Overdying, and a Reader-Submitted Dye Question!

In my last post on overdyeing, I mentioned that blyue dye over a green yarn could be lucky, and all day those words haunted me. At home, I have 6 skeins of Gloss Lace
in Malachite, a recently discontinued color that is a little cooler
(bluer) than the current green, Peapod, offered in that line:

this is a yarn that I bought last year with a specific purpose in mind,
which no longer inspires me! I wanted to knit a preppy pink-and green
striped sweater, but then realized that I am SO not preppy and the
colors I chose were just too subdued for me. So this yarn sat in my
stash for a year. Until last weekend:


Coffee Dyeing

I’ve used Jacquard acid dyes for a number of yarn and roving
projects, but for this month’s dyealong I wanted to try something new.

I haven’t done much natural dyeing,
and I wanted to try using everyday household items that didn’t need
special equipment or complicated recipes.  I thought I’d try using
coffee to dye my blanks – we always have it in the cupboard, and I was
playing around with the idea of using two different ombre dye patterns
in a woven scarf.


Red Cabbage in three colors


I’ve never dyed yarn before. I love to experiment, but I
don’t really like following instructions. This makes for an interesting combo
when it comes to hand dyeing. I cook a lot and like to mix different recipes
for the same dish into a funny hybrid that by nature I can never
remember how I
made. Must be a good method for dyeing yarn, right? Definitely! Well,
perhaps .
. .


Dyed and Dried!

Well, my acid-dyed experiments are dry and vinegar-smell-free (much
to the relief of my hubby)! I wanted to wait till they were good and dry
before sharing the results, because after the steam bath, some of them
looked a little questionable! But, I am pleased to say that they’re
lookin’ pretty good now!

The first one I tried to dye to match my favorite mug.


Yum, my yarn smells like cherries.







always been curious about dyeing yarn, but I was intimidated by the safety
precautions you need to take with dyes that aren’t food safe (although now that
Kelley and Kerin have given us some pointers, I am feeling more confident). Then
Nina pointed me towards the What a Kool Way to Dye group on Ravelry, and I
couldn’t wait to give Kool Aid dyeing a try. My local grocery store didn’t have
a huge variety of flavors, so I picked up two of everything they had.



I was actually going for more of a gradated-sunset-kind-of-look with my second sock blank,
but since my cherry blank completely exhausted all the dye in the red
Kool-Aid (to my surprise!), I only had lemonade and orange left. I
decided to wing it and try mixing 1 pack of orange with some red food
dye and a splash of vinegar and see what I’d get.


First I dumped the whole blank in the pot of boiling lemonade until it exhausted the dye.


Awesome Color Depth Through Overdying!

So many people around the office have jumped into dyeing this month as members of our Dye-Along,
which makes me so glad! Dyeing is one of the most relaxing, creative,
and fun hobbies I have, and I love that we’re all sharing the cool
tricks and ideas we’re discovering. Knit Picks offers a variety of
natural-colored yarn bases that are perfect for dyeing; the creamy
colored wool takes all kinds of dyes wonderfully and gives you, the
dyer, amazing control over the range and depth of colors in your
finished yarn.

I love dyeing natural colored yarns, too. But sometimes, I just have to shake things up.


Dyeing with Indigo

I’ve recently been exploring natural dyeing methods, and I was really excited when we started carrying a Indigo Dye kit.  What makes indigo dyeing a little tricky is that indigo is not naturally water soluble, and you need water to help the fabric absorb the dye.  So the indigo in this kit is reduced into powder, and when you add it to a bucket of water, it is a yellow green color because the oxygen was removed.  You add wet yarn or fabric to the indigo and hold it in the dye bath for only a couple of minutes.  When you remove the dyed yarn, it is a bright green color and you can watch it turn blue as it comes into contact with oxygen.  I have a more in depth tutorial for dyeing with this Indigo Dye kit here.