I admit I have sort of neglected the Monster’s Dye Pot posts, especially after I had announced that it was becoming a recurring thing. I’ve done plenty of dyeing since then and I’ve documented it pretty thoroughly as well; it just never came together into a blog post.
However, over the weekend my family did some Easter Egg-dyeing, which offered the perfect opportunity to get back into sharing my yarn dyeing experiments.
I used leftover Easter egg dyes for this project. There are several different brands of Easter egg dyes available… I use the Paas dye kit; there are a couple of different variations, this one is the Classic set with 9 different colored dye tablets.
(Tip: If you are interested in trying out Easter egg dyes for yarn, be sure to check your local store the next few weeks for clearance; last year I got some 8 kits for 25 cents each or something ridiculous like that)
I did not personally prepare the dyes this time around—I will assume it was done according to the directions on the box, although from my understanding, we ran out of vinegar towards the end. In the long run, it didn’t seem to affect the finished product.
For this project, I wanted to create an “abbreviated rainbow”, without the extremes of the red and the purple. The colors I ended up using were: orange, yellow, spring green, teal, blue, and denim.
My base was 100 grams of undyed Portuguese Merino top, presoaked while we dyed the eggs. As mentioned before, we ran out of vinegar, so I soaked it in plain tap water only. There was enough vinegar in the dye solution anyway, so it didn’t matter.
When it was time to start dyeing, I arranged the fiber in a long serpentine within a 13” by 9” Pyrex dish. A lot of the excess water was squeezed out, but not all of it. I still wanted the fiber to be quite moist, but not dripping wet… it is a surprisingly difficult balance to strike.
In the past I have tried to come up with new and different ways to apply the dyes, but recently my favorite method is plain and simple, tried and true.
The fiber is placed into a dish, and then the colors are added to it in bands. It is a very controlled method… you will not get many random patches of color mixing and works very well when you colors to blend smoothly into each other, as it the case with my Abbreviated Rainbow.
One thing that I have had noticed with using this method is that the color doesn’t always make it down to the bottom of the fiber at first, in spite of the copious amount of dye added and the amount of squishing made in attempt to work the dye into the fiber. It seems to seep down once the fiber is heated; so don’t be too alarmed if the bottom of the pan is completely white. Mine was in the beginning, but I ended up with a very uniform color in the end.
The Dyeing Process
I used my handy syringe (seriously, best dyeing tool ever) to apply the dye. Also vital were plastic food service gloves to squish the dye into the fiber without having green fingers once I was done.
I started on the left with my first color (orange), and the shifted to the right with each subsequent color.
Halfway though, this is what the fiber looked like. I didn’t pay much attention to blending the colors together… they did that by themselves during the heating process. That strip of yellow was nearly gone in the finished product.
Once all of the dye was applied, it went into the microwave. My rule is heat for three minutes , let cool to room temperature and then reheat for three more minutes until the dye has exhausted (Your microwave may vary).
Something interesting happened—the dyed never did exhaust completely. I let it cook, cool, repeat for most of the afternoon and evening. When I rinse the fiber, there was still a lot of excess dye.
To be fair, I used a lot of dye, mostly because I could and I thought it might help the issue with the color penetrating the bottom of the fiber. However, I think this might also be as saturated as this particular fiber and dye combination gets. Unspun fiber will look duller and paler than its spun yarn counterpart and from my understanding; Easter egg dyes are not very strong. Something to keep in mind; the colors are bright and happy, but not eye-burning neon saturated… as you can see in the finished product below.
The Finished Product
After the fiber was rinsed and set out to dry, here is the final result—I love it!
Unfortunately, it might be a little while until I can actually get around to spinning it; I already have a project on the spindle and I haven’t made much progress and it doesn’t look like I will be able to work on in for the next couple of weeks.
Here is the fiber, in case you are wondering. This batch was my first time using Wilton’s Icing Colors on fiber. The idea behind this one was actually “Secondary Rainbow”, using only variations of secondary colors (orange, green, purple, etc.)… However this one was more haphazard (using a similar concept to my mini-skein experiment a few months ago) and not a smooth gradient like my Easter egg dye fiber.
I hope that everyone had a Happy Easter! I will be back later this week with more on the crochet side of things.