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Dyeing yarn….. A scary but fun adventure…..Guest Blogger Jess Eisert.….find her on Ravelry.com About 2 months ago, I was perusing a local yarn store not finding EXACTLY what I wanted. I’m willing to admit I’m a hard person when it comes to buying that perfect yarn. I don’t want a wool yarn unless it’s soft ~ I don’t want a super slick yarn that will fall of my needles constantly ~ I don’t like too much texture in my yarn ~I have to have color with it ~ And the price has to be Just Right!! OK, let’s face it, I’m a yarn snob. So back to my adventure at the yarn store where there seems to be 1,000’s of skeins of yarn and NOTHING is “calling” my name. As I headed down the last aisle, way in the back, I come across this very unassuming, plain white skein of yarn. Still not sure what made me pick it up but hey it’s got some sparkle in there. Upon closer examination, I discover it is a Plymouth Yarn Dye for Me Suri Alpaca Merino Glow (say that 3 times fast) ~consisting of 80% Suri Alpaca, 15% Merino Wool and 5% Stellina made in Peru. There is 1,094 yards on this lace weight skein for just $18.00 (enough for a whole project). Wow, got my juices flowing but dyeing ~ never attempted that before ~ always a 1st time for everything ~ so I made my purchase and headed home to surf the net for ideas, directions, suggestions!! After much research, I found some helpful information so now off to the big box store to find types of dye. Lots of different brands to choose from but I decided upon Dylon Permanent Fabric dye. Of course, I had to select 6 different colors too!!! Used a Tulip brand for my purple color as that was the only one available ~ go figure!! Spent about $18.00 on my 6 packages of dye and I purchased some plastic squeeze bottles too for good control over where I wanted to place my colors. Now I was ready ~ first I had to soak the yarn in a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and cold water for 24 hours. All those worrisome thoughts were running through my head, but after the 24 hour soak, the yarn was ready for the next step and was still in a nice workable hank 🙂 Remove the skein of yarn from the soaking mixture and pat dry so it is just DAMP to the touch not dripping. Now I laid paper towels out and then placed several layers plastic wrap over them to make sure all my seams were covered. Now the fun part ~ dyeing!! Follow the manufacturer’s directions but I used a pinch of salt (didn’t measure), 2 cups of luke warm water, and half the dye package. Which was way too much dye, just a fourth of the package would have been sufficient. I was going for a rainbow effect and was very pleased with how everything was going at this point. I didn’t wear gloves but you could wear some latex gloves if you don’t want to get any dye on your hands. Pictured here is what I ended up with after I squeezed dye onto the yarn. I recommend that you kind of move the yarn around with the tip of the bottle to make sure that you get your dye through all the yarn. HINT: Start with your lightest colors first (yellow, orange, green, red, blue, purple) At this point, you want to seal the skein of yarn with the plastic wrap. I essentially folded one long side over the yarn, folded the other long side over, then the ends and then folded this tube in half then in half again. (Your goal is to just keep the dye from going everywhere during the steaming process). Now you were suppose to place your wrapped yarn inside a double boiler for 45 – 60 minutes with the lid on the pot. Oooh ~ my lack of patience and my thought that I was going to end up with a big felted piece made me deviate from the instructions!!! So I “cooked” it for only 35 minutes with no lid but my end result came out as a softer, less vibrant color but perfect for a Spring/Summer project. I loved it!!!! Once you have completed the steaming process, place your yarn in the sink to let it cool. You don’t want to shock the yarn and go straight into cold water as you would end up with a big piece of felt!! After about 15 minutes, I removed the plastic wrap from the yarn and ran it under cool water in the sink. Here was what my yarn looked like after the first rinse. I let it sit for a few minutes and then did another rinse in water. I did a third rinse as there was still dye coming off the yarn and onto the paper towels. I let the yarn air dry on the counter top until it was fully dry ~ about 48 hours. Once dried, I wound my skein and this is what I ended up with. I’m currently making a Trillian scarf out of it. (You can find the pattern on Ravelry) and I’m doubling the yarn as I knit it. I really love how it is turning out. With my second dyeing process ~ I used a skein of Apollo from Catnip Yarns, 50% silk & 50% Merino wool. They sell only natural, undyed yarn. It’s super soft and more of a chunky weight. I did everything the same EXCEPT I used only half the amount of dye (1 cup of water, ¼ of the dye package), and I feel, most importantly, I used the double boiler, on a high heat, with the LID on for 50 minutes for steaming. My end result was the vibrant rainbow that I initially was striving for. I know I will attempt this fun and creative process again. Hope you will give it a try ~ would love to see pictures too 🙂 Check out Dharma Trading Co. for more information on dyeing yarn. HINT: I am still using the original dye packages that I purchased and I feel certain that I can create another rainbow skein before I would need to purchase more!!