Tuesday, March 25, 2008


After my family colored our Easter eggs I was left with a large amount of food coloring. Since I am knitoriously cheap-thrifty-compulsive-what-have-you about some things, I decided that the leftover dye should be used to color my Knitpicks lace weight yarn so generously donated last year by Jeanie, my Knitting Amiga.
I had 2 skeins, 880 yards each, so I could ultimately knit a small shawl or several pairs of socks from them, someday.

Tutorial for Knitoriously Cheap Dye Job:
Undyed yarn from stash
Leftover food color from Easter egg coloring
white vinegar
Pyrex dish
plastic wrap
pot holders
latex/rubber gloves
clothesline or drying place
clothespins or plastic hangers

After soaking briefly in cool water to which a couple of glugs of white vinegar was added, I gently squeezed much of the water out of each skein. Each skein was tied securely in several places!
I placed the skein in my trusty Pyrex baking dish.
I had my leftover food coloring in several plastic cups, so all I did was line the cups up and pour in the color sequences you see above. Using a fork, I pressed down on the yarn in several places to disperse the coloring throughout the yarn.
Since I was a bit stingy with my pours, as I wanted to assure that I had enough coloring for the second skein, I took my spray bottle and misted the skein with water to help saturate the colors even more to eliminate any bare spots. Again, I pressed the yarn with my fork.
Pretty, yes? I drained off any excess colored water from the dish. That way I had more control over any colors running where they were unwanted.

Covering the entire dish with plastic wrap, I microwaved it on normal setting over 3 minutes for 3 intervals ( 9 minutes total) Important to monitor the yarn during each cook cycle. Your kitchen may have a temporary wet wool odor!
Using potholders to remove the hot dish from the microwave, and removing the plastic wrap, I slid the skein into my sink. Any remaining water in the skein ran clear when the skein was pressed with a fork.
Flipping it around a bit with my fork to study the results, I let the skein cool for several minutes while I readied the second batch of yarn for coloring.
I diluted the remaining food coloring in the cups with some tap water and gently swirled the coloring around in the cups before pouring onto the second skein. This time I was going for a more pastel color effect. I purposely avoided covering all the white areas this time.
Again, cover with plastic wrap and cook slow while keeping a careful watch on your yarn!
Meanwhile, the first batch has cooled down enough that I could comfortably handle it. Didn't need to use the rubber gloves on standby because the coloring had set nicely! I let it soak for 5 minutes in cool water.
Here it is resting after the water was squeezed out of it.
After batch #2 was cooked and cooled, it also got a cool water bath for 5 minutes...
After draining the sink and squeezing out any water I was happy with these results too!
Here they both are hanging out to dry in my backyard.
Now, Gentle Knitter, doesn't it look more like Spring?
Now, I need to come up with names for my new yarns!
Yes, I'm still knitting away on Mike's sweater. You know, the sleeves have stopped growing! Just like that. I keep knitting and yet they appear to remain the same length!
And, yet, I persevere!
Have a great knitting week!


hakucho said...

Very pretty :)Now to see what you knit with it....

Anonymous said...

My husband had to wander over and see what was on the screen. That was neat! Thanks for sharing. I still don't see myself dyeing, but that was much "easier looking" than I imagined!

DawnK said...

Very pretty! I can't wait to see it wound up into a ball and then knit with! Have fun!

Amanda said...

This is really cool! I love the colors that you've come up with. Now you have to knit it up so that we can all see the results!

carole said...

great minds think alike!
I dyed up some handspun to donate to church for our goods and services auction for the mission trip.. I have a pic on my blog.

I also have some that I dyed with some coffee... haven't wound that yet as um... didn't have it tied in enough places... I won't go there, but right now it isn't a pretty sight..

carole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BunnyStamping said...

Your yarn turned out looking so pretty! You have inspired me to try this myself very soon. :)

Lindy said...

So pretty!!! I've always wanted to do that. I guess the first step would be buying some yarn that can be dyed.... *sigh*

Two Cables and a Frapp said...

Too Cool !!!

KSee said...

I just love this. Thanks for sharing. The colors are so fun. Can't wait to see what you knit up

carole said...

i was mistaken my handpun is romney.. i digress.... do you use the chopsticks for needles as well??? I use them for my kids at school. We started today. 25 kids... crazy! I think we must be soul sisters somehow...

smariek said...

I can't wait to see what you make with these. Thanks for sharing how you did this. Since you used laceweight, I couldn't help but think of "noodles" while looking at your photos, lol.

Mary Anne said...

Gorgeous colours! Those skeins look edible and yummy.

OhAmyKP said...

Thanks for these instructions. I want to dye but I keep thinking it will be so messy. Now I know it doesn't have to be.

Will this process work if I use cool Aid coloring instead of food coloring?