Tutorial: A Quick Dye Job

A couple of years ago, I asked a friend of mine who is a professional yarn-dyer how she dyed one of her colorways into a gradient.  I just couldn't imagine controlling the flow of color using the tradition ways of dyeing skeins.  So, she told me.  She doesn't dye the yarn in the skein, she dyes it while it's knitted up like a blanket.



  • 100g skein of yarn meant for dyeing (or natural fiber yarn that can be over-dyed) knitted into a blanket or scarf (a knitting machine makes this faster)
  • gloves
  • kettle to quickly boil water and mix colors
  • Kool-Aid packets (5 to 15 depending on color intensity - this tutorial used 5 plus a pinch of a 6th pack)
  • a microwave
  • plastic bag or surface protector
  • microwave-safe bowl big enough to hold knitted blank
  • jars to mix Kool-Aid (how many depends on how many colors you want to mix)
  • yarn swift

Using a vague version of her technique, I used the knitting machine to knit up one skein of yarn into a kind of blanket or wide scarf.

1 skein of Knit Picks Bare
Then, I soaked it in warm water while I mixed the Kool-Aid colors.  I used 6 small packets of Kool-Aid, and the yarn color is still quite light.

Kool-Aid "Recipes"

1) basic light blue = 1 pack of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade + 1 pack Berry Blue + a pinch of Cherry

2) darker green = three dips in the combo of 1 pack Ice Berry Blue Raspberry Lemonade + 1 pack Lemon Lime + a pinch of Cherry

3) yellow blending = 1 pack Lemonade

All colors used at least one full pack of Kool-Aid mixed in a small jar (about 1.5 Cups) of just-boiled water.

Dyeing Procedure

Once all my colors were mixed, I gently poured blue color onto blanket which was set atop a plastic bag big enough to cover my surface.  Note: I wish I’d rolled the wet blanket and dipped it into the bowl for more even coverage. Ah well!

Then, I poured some of the green dye into a bowl, and with a rolled blanketb I dipped the end of the blanket into the bowl with 1/3 green mix, then dipped again, but deeper, with 1/3 green mix, then even deeper with the last of the green mix to create a kind of gradient.

But, where there was a bit too much contrast, I added yellow, pouring directly from the jar and using my hands (in latex gloves) to kind of finger-paint the color.

Then, I cooked the blanket with enough water to slightly cover it in a Pyrex bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes (checking on it and turning it every minute or so).

I rinsed the blanket in warm water, soaked in “Soak” then spun it dry in washing machine, and unwound gently to dry in hank-form.

after spinning it dry
winding slightly damp yarn is pretty easy

The colors came out much lighter than anticipated, but I'm still pleased with it.  If I want super-intense colors next time, then I could mix larger quantities of color (more Kool-Aid packs + more just boiled water).  But, this fairly non-toxic and relatively quick (with a knitting machine and microwave!) dyeing method appeals to me very much, and I think I will try it again in the future!

So... any ideas on what to make with the newly dyed yarn?

Swayback Girl Clovers

I'm still waiting for my interfacing to come in the mail to complete my Starlet Suit Jacket... so in the meantime...

As one of the many Sew Weekly Contributors participating in Sew Weekly's "green challenge" week, I sewed a pair of Clover trousers.  I couldn't resist - the name and the challenge were too good together.

Front pocket detail + daffodils!
  • Fabric: 1.5m stretch brown denim (dyed to dark olive) purchased at Stoffen Spektakel in Amsterdam.  I used scrap cotton for the pockets.
  • Pattern: Colette Clover + self-drafted swayback triangle pattern pieces
  • Year: 2011 ⁃ Notions: invisible zipper
  • Time to complete: 2 days ⁃ First worn: Wednesday
  • Wear again? yes! I love them, although the self-drafted pieces together with the darts is a little funky, I love the way these trousers fit. No gaping at the bum.  No unintentional granny-panty flashing.
  • Total price:~23 EUR
  • Price breakdown: 3m @ 7EUR/m = 21 EUR, but I only used 1.5 m for the pants. It's pretty wide fabric. So, I have enough to make another pair! It's likely I'll make a different variation with more jeans-like qualities such as pockets with depth. Dylon dye in olive green was 8.70 EUR, and the zipper I had on hand from ages ago, but it was maybe 2 or 3 EUR.
Modifications to Clover pattern from Colette: Extended legs to full inseam length. I used a flat-felled seam throughout. And, by the way, can I tell you that flat felled seams are awesome, but really hard to do on your outer pant leg seams? It took a lot of scrunching and patience to finish them. I also drafted this triangle piece to help with swayback gaping which happens to me all the time. I am a swayback girl. I tried the trousers on after basting the legs together quickly just to test the fit and the waistline. I noticed I was getting the usual "low-rise back" effect and took action! I quickly drafted two triangular pieces in order to raise the back waistline to make sure I wasn't exhibiting my undies on a regular basis when wearing these.

the two triangle pieces
I did an adjusted dart as well. Instead of making the darts perfectly triangular, I extended them straight down and then tapered thanks to a tip from another swayback girl who recently addressed the issue on her blog. Here's the short version:
dart comparison, adriprints 2012

Pattern Crit: I was so happy that my first wearable muslin of Colette's Clover trousers is actually wearable. I made the zipper on the left instead of the right. I think it could use a hook/eye closure to help ease the zipper up. The invisible zipper installation proved to be a challenge, but with my Simplicity Sewing book + the Colette online tutorial + this invisible zipper tutorial from see kate sew, I was finally able to manage it and I only messed up one leg of the zipper just once! Plus, my fabric was really wide, so the pressure was off and there's enough leftover fabric to make another pair, which I definitely will! Also, I'm proud of my funky triangle pattern pieces.

my lady lumps

detail of triangle gusset
 About the dye... I used Dylon Fabric Dye (40C for the washing machine) color #34 Olive Green. My original fabric was a medium brown and with the olive green, they turned out a very deep olive. The dye worked really well and did not leach into the machine or on other items I washed with it right after dying (just to see). I followed the instructions and I'm really happy with the resulting dark green.

the dyed fabric w/ original next to it
 Check out the original post here on Sew Weekly!

Finished Objects: Ravelympics Projects

I was able to participate in the Ravelympics:  a knitting event coordinated with the Winter Olympics timetable.  Rules: Challenge yourself to knit a project or two during the span of the Winter Olympics.  I reached all my goals except one... I could not finish the Percy Shawl in time, but it's almost done...

Here are my finished projects with their corresponding Ravelympic medals

Sam's Longhorns and Diamonds hat

My Hepburn / Drops Remix: The Hepstar in Moss vest

My dyed yarn:  "Bluebird" and "Tealy Dan"

Another Adventure Dyeing Things Blue

A new colorwork project dictates that I must have the perfect colors for the pattern.  So, in advance of working on Little Birds by Ysolda Teague I have searched through my stash and decided upon these colorways from my Wollmeise sock yarn...

Nobody's Perfect Wasabi

A light blue that didn't exist until I hand-dyed it earlier in the week.  Here is the story, in photos, of it's birth.  I'm calling it bluebird.

First it was a hank of Wollmeise 100% Natur, and it was subject to trial by fire in a hot pot of near-boiling water with a bit of Ashford dye.
After the hot came the cool water phase where it began its transformation into bluebird.
And once cooled and left to dry out, it was twisted and coiled into a skein.
Behold, the little bare undyed hank with so much potential, that is now, bluebird.  Yay!  I can't wait to knit it up.

Adventures in Hand-Dyeing Yarn

I had this mystery cone of yarn that was acquired on a road trip with friends of mine.  She had it in the back seat of her car and wasn't sure she would ever use it, so I gladly gave it a home in my stash... that was last year.  I washed it to remove the machine oils and made a few swatches of it singled/doubled...

Then, another knitting friend decided to bestow upon me some dye that she wasn't interested in anymore.  I ended up with two little bottles of Ashford dye.  I've always wanted to try it, and after seeing some of the wonderful results people got with simply Kool-Aid, my imagination went wild over the potential in these two little bottles of professional dyes in teal and scarlet.  I love blue, so I began my experiment with the teal.. 

Yarn was first wound into hanks, then tied with extra yarn in a few places.  Then it was washed and soaked for a day.  Next day, I heated the water to a low boil and added the dye/vinegar mix to the water stirring constantly.  Then the yarn was added and the dye was quickly absorbed by the yarn.  After cooling and rinsing, the yarn was dried on old hangers, clamps, etc. over a pot and tarp to catch the drips.

One cone of mystery lace-weight yarn, vinegar, dye, and old pot, stinky kitchen, and drying and winding... here's what I got:

I cannot wait to knit it up. This color has made me so happy!!  Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!