On Dipping my hands in dyeing

Kettle Dyeing, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.

So, here goes my first attempt at dyeing.

After brooding over and gathering information...I decided last night that it's now or never. Or like Bockstark Knits had said to me about the podcast: "Just do it!"

(more to read after the break...click below)

I went ahead and re-hanked the two 50 g skeins of Regia in cream that I got a while ago for dyeing purpose and then I soaked them in a solution of warm water and vinegar.

This morning drained them and squeezed out the excess fluid then just laid both hanks in the pot, added warm water (trickling down the side of the pot and not directly on to the yarn) until it was just enough to cover the yarn. Then I added an unknown amount of vinegar to it. I then put the pot on the stove and started heating it up gently (I settled on one - I have three and halves steps on my stove).

While the pot was warming up, I mixed the colours. The problem I had about starting this was because I can't think of the colours I wanted on the yarn. Until I came to the conclusion that I just wanted to learn about it and I wouldn't care about the colours. I decided to go with four: Orange, red, purple and green. I was using liquid food colourings.

For the green: It was almost pure green, although I added a drop of blue and a couple of drops of yellow to it.

For the red: Same here, almost pure red, but it wasn't deep enough for me, so I added a couple of drops of blue.

For the orange: I just mixed red and yellow together until I was satisfied.

For the purple: Same as the orange, but this time with blue and red.

I also add an unknown (and pretty copious) amount of vinegar to each colour jar.

For the most part, I was more or less following this kettle dyeing tutorial (next time, I'll try with this one).

I started dropping in colours, working from the orange at 11 o'clock and adding colours clockwise. Now, you have to take into account that I was dyeing two hanks at once, so a hank might get more of one colour than the other. In the beginning, I was thinking of being careful about where I put the dye in....after about 30 seconds I just thought: "The heck with it!" and then started just pouring in the colours, prodding around about with a wooden spoon.

I put the lid on partially and left the pot simmer for an hour....boy, does that vinegar stink! After an hour, the water is clear (it's magic!) and I let the pot cool outside on my balcony for another hour.

I then rinsed the yarn out in a bath of pH-neutral handwash and then rinsed it again in a bath of Eucalan....

...now this is the interesting part: I've read somewhere last night that purple is a colour that's hard to get exhausted properly....and that happened with me. When I was rinsing, I noticed that a lot of red was being rinsed out....and it came from the purple mix. So, many parts that was supposed to be covered in purple ended up turning light blue, with partial purple to it wherever the red decided to stick with the blue. Well, that was my first learning lesson. I wasn't surprised or anything, because I kind of expected that the purple wouldn't work out anyway...it's just the fact that I didn't know that the blue would still be there but the red would wash out....

...so that was my adventure into kettle-dyeing for the first time! I wasn't really concentrating on the fun part, because I was trying so hard to keep the steps in mind and I was more curious to see about how things work. I'm sure that the next time, it's going to be fun. ;-)

And here are the two hanks drying out in the sun:

First dyeing attempts drying, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.

I can't wait for them to dry properly so that I can re-hank and take a proper photo....and I'm really curious to how these would knit up, too!

First hand-dye jobs!, originally uploaded by elemmaciltur.

EDIT: Well, thank you to the hot sunny weather, the hanks dried up so fast! Sooooo, I got to wound them up into yarn cakes and then wanked them back into hanks again. And I have to say that I'm feeling really smug right now as how they both turned out:


I'm really mighty pleased with myself right now. Each hanks are only 50 g (210 m). I should think that each would be enough for a pair of anklets for myself. ;-)

The base yarn I used was Regia 4-Ply in cream (#0600), 75% superwash virgin wool, 25% polyamid.

I've named each hank so: The top one is "Sunset in Winter" and the bottom one is "Citrus Tangerine Sherbet".

So, tell me what you think!

Current Mood: Great and I also felt accomplished having dyed the yarn (I also managed to finish one of my papers while dyeing, too!)
Food for the Ears: PotterCast #112: Live, with book 7 discussion


Crafty Andy's picture

My life is a Craft, not a blog. 

It looks like a very interesting color combination. Definitely want to see what the end product looks like. I like the end product a lot. Thanks for sharing with us!

potterdc's picture

Yes, I agree! Show us a picture of the finished product! I love to dye - I just need more time to do it.

Jonathan in DC

Think less, enjoy it more.

wackowally's picture

Great yarns. I definitely third the suggestion that you post what you make with them.

I know that food colorings in europe are not the same as those in the usa, but over here our blue takes longer to exhaust, hardly ever fully exhausts, and needs more acid than the red, and all of our non primary colors are mixes, so with purple, if the dyebath isn't acidic enough the red strikes first leaving the blue to strike afterwards which imho gives a different look than if both of the dyes were to strike at the same time.

The food coloring red 3/erythrosine also behaves weirdly as an acid dye. When in acidic conditions, it becomes insoluble and forms globules that stick to the wool instead of dyeing it and will eventually wash/wear out. There are people who swear that by starting with practically no vinegar and gradually adding more while heating the dyebath, they have gotten erythrosine to strike, but I haven't been successful using that technique or any others. It is odd though, that the red seemed to only bleed out of the purple parts and not the red parts but then again, the food colorings you have there are different from the ones I have here, so it only makes sense that they may not behave exactly the same. If any of your pots or utensils have a pain in the ass to remove red coating on them after dyeing, then the food coloring most likely contained erythrosine.

Would it be too much to ask if you could print the ingredients lists of the food colorings to satisfy my curiosities?

Elemmaciltur's picture

I had the three base colours: Red, blue and yellow. With the addition of green.

Apart from water, each colour has the ingredients of:

Red: Cochineal Red A (E 124)
Blue: Patent Blue V (E 131)
Yellow: Quinoline Yellow (E 104), Sunset Yellow FC (E 110)
Green: Quinoline Yellow (E 104), Suset Yellow FC (E 110), Cochineal Red A (E 124), Patent Blue V (E 131)

Hope that gives you the information you needed.