Background and Inspiration:
This month’s Dye-A-Long theme is “Confetti” for the What A Kool Way to Dye group over on Ravelry, and as luck would have it… achieving spots and speckles is a technique I’ve been wanting to experiment with for a while now.
And I want a new pair of socks… after finishing and wearing my Scylla socks for a couple of weeks now, I realize that one pair simply isn’t enough. In order to make some more socks, I need some more sock yarn dyed, pronto!
I don’t really have any specific inspirations for this particular experiment, just a couple different skeins of polka-dotted/ splotched yarn I’ve seen while browsing around Ravelry.
I used Lion Brand Sock-Ease in Marshmallow for my base; it is a 100% Superwash wool yarn that comes in 100g/440 yards skeins (And unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be stocked in any big box stores anymore).
This experiment was originally going to be dyed with dry Kool-Aid powder, but I chickened out and stuck with my good old Wilton’s Icing Colors. I used a total of 8 different colors: Violet, Royal Blue, Teal, Kelly Green, Lemon Yellow, Copper, and No-Taste Red.
As per usual, I presoaked my yarn in a water and vinegar solution… no specific ratio, just a healthy glug of vinegar in the soak water.
Methods and Dyeing Process:
My special technique for getting those polka-dots I wanted? Toothpicks, lots and lots of toothpicks…
It’s a pretty simple process; stick the toothpick in the jar of dye, get a good coating of gel on the tip, and then poke the toothpick into the yarn (making sure to get deep down into the skein for better coverage) until the toothpick comes clean.
Repeat several times for each color… I used around three toothpicks for most colors (using both ends, which gets quite messy if you have any excess dye left on one side when you start using the other), but only one or two for colors like Red or Copper that I didn’t want very much of.
This is what it looked like once the cool colors (Teal, Kelly Green, Royal Blue and Violet) were applied:
And then this is what it looked like once the warm colors (Pink, Red, Copper and Yellow) were applied and the yarn was ready to be cooked.
This is basically what I was expecting the yarn to end up like: little spots of colors on a mostly white background, maybe a little colors spreading and mixing, but mostly that was it. Unfortunately, I had no idea what was going on underneath those pretty little polka-dots…
Once that yarn had been heated and I assumed the dyed had all set, I tried to flip the yarn over to apply some more dots in case the dyes didn’t make it all the way to the bottom of the skein. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
It had all turned green underneath!
Not was I was expecting, but I decided to roll with it. I decided against adding any more dye (the dots seemed to have penetrated well enough), but let the topside soak up any of the extra green dye at the bottom of the pan.
One last heat-set after that and then onto drying!
The Finished Product:
The one thing I love about dyeing yarn is that even when you make a mistake, it usually looks just as good as it was supposed to… in this case, I think my leaky green dye looks even better than the plain white background I was expecting.
Here is the dried skein… it is so hard taking photos of hand-dyed yarns! The camera simply doesn’t like to pick up on the intricacies and blending of the colors together… so believe me when I say it looks much nicer in real life!
You can see that my polka-dots are still very much intact, but on a tonal green and teal background.
I love the result… so much that not a moment after I finished snapping the photos of the finished yarn I was off winding the skein into a ball so I could get knitting!
I chose the Paper Moon sock pattern because I thought the garter stitch panels would really make the polka-dots pop, plus the cables give a little something interesting to do without being too involved (Since they are only 4 stitches wide, they are really easy to do without cable needles, too).
This is all that I have been able to do so far, but it really shows off the little flecks of colors. It will be interesting to see how this look as a pattern begins to develop.