Dyeing yarn for the Baby Sheep Hat

I knit this sheep hat for Katie’s baby (due February 22!). I was inspired by Jennifer Little’s adorable Sheep Yoke Cardigan that I saw on Ravelry, but I figured a newborn would be more likely to wear a hat, and by the time the baby would be big enough for a cardigan it would be summer. I used Jennifer’s sheet chart and applied it to a basic newborn hat size (the free pattern is in the sidebar of my Indigomouse blog).

As for the yarn, I decided that rather than buy multiple balls of Swish DK and only use a small amount, I would use some Bare Superwash DK I had on hand and dye my colors. (I did use Swish DK in white for the sheep–don’t ask me why I thought bleached white wool was more “sheepy” than the actual sheep color of the Bare!) Anyway, the hat is a good example of the different variations of dyeing with the immersion method.

For the green, I wanted it to be grassy and variegated with different green tones, so I mixed my Jacquard dyes. I used mostly “gold ochre” with a pinch of “emerald” (dark colors require much less dye when mixing with lighter colors) and stirred the powder directly into my dye pot with the water and vinegar. When I immersed the yarn, it took up the two different dye colors differently in different places, so I got bits of “grass” that are darker green and other parts that are a light yellow-green.

For the blue of the sky, I wanted a light blue that wasn’t very variegated, so I just used one dye color, turquoise. The first time around I tried using the “sky blue” dye color, but it came out much darker and cooler than I wanted (it looked like night-time!). For my second try I used a very small amount of “turquoise” dye with better results. You can see that the blue is more solid looking, even though I used the same immersion method. The difference is that it is one dye color instead of a mix of two.

Now, if I had wanted my green more solid looking I would have altered my method slightly. Since I didn’t have any one Jacquard dye that was the color I wanted, I would still have to mix, but I would have done what I call dry mixing the dye. To dry mix, I get a disposable plastic container with a tight snap-on lid, and I measure my dye powder into it. I then seal it and shake up the powder until it is thoroughly mixed. Then that mixture is added to the water and vinegar in the dye pot. The result is a less variegated look.

And here’s a picture of Katie at the shower with the hat: