Rosarios4 dye kit
Yarn Dying – DO TRY THIS AT HOME!
A few weeks ago as the world was heading for lockdown, and I ridiculously thought I might get a teeny bit more knitting time with my other half at home, I tried my hand at yarn dying with a fabulous DIY kit from Rosarios4. The kit comes in three varieties for different yarn types: an aran-ish weight organic wool, a bulky wool, and a gorgeous 4ply merino. I tested the merino kit because, well, I’m a sucker for merino wool!
Here’s what the kit looks like:
- 2 skeins of undyed yarn – 100 g each (approx. 250m/skein in the merino kit)
- 3 dye powders (there are other dye combinations available)
- Dyed samples
If you have never dyed yarn before and think it sounds difficult, I promise you that it is very easy, and the results can be really great! In this blog post, I’ll go through my yarn-dying process and give you some tips for a smooth process!
Preparation is Key!
Even though you can’t wait get to get started, do read the instructions before you get going. Also, choose an area that is easy to clean as your base (I used the tiled floor in my bathroom) and line it with old newspapers or black bags. You’ll be surprised how far the smallest amount of dye powder goes! You’ll need a few things besides the kit itself.
Here’s a handy prep checklist that I’ve compiled:
- Measuring jug (1L)
- Washed jam jar
- 2 lunchboxes
- Mixing spoon - I picked up a cheap plastic one that I only use for yarn dying
- Measuring spoons - handy to measure tiny quantities of dye powder. You can’t reliably weigh the dye on a kitchen scales.
- Wool detergent or a mild shampoo
Think about Colours
If you’re like me, this will be the most challenging part! I really liked that Rosarios4 give samples of dyed fabrics so you can get an idea for how the yarn might look when dyed. It doesn’t specify in the kit leaflet but I assumed that these samples were dyed at full strength. You can play around with different shades by varying the amount of dye powder you use (more about that later).
When you unwind the skeins you will notice that there are a few ties keeping the yarn in order. I added a few extra ties (the grey ones in the picture). I tied them through the yarn in a figure of 8 so that I could use these to pick up the skein with the handle of my spoon later on (trust me, this is useful!).
Ready, Steady, Dye
There are different approaches to dying: you can choose to dye with a single colour, mix colours, or speckle the yarn with or without prior dying. I’ve actually dyed yarn a few times now and I’ve yet to succeed at speckling! It’s not as easy as it might sound.
For this kit, I chose to do one skein in unicolour and the other as a mix of all three colours.
I chose to go with the pink (called violet in the kit). Here’s what I did:
- I couldn’t find my measuring spoons so I mixed about 1/3 of the powder in the glass tube with 500 ml of tap-hot water in a measuring jug.
- I then added a mixture of 60 ml vinegar + 40 ml cold water (that I had mixed in a jam jar).
- I pour the dye mixture into a lunchbox, took a deep breath and added my first skein. I used the plastic spoon to gently move the yarn around in the dye mixture. I also moved the yarn and dye around with my gloved hands. Make sure there are no white parts on the skein (unless you are going for this!).
For my second skein, I simply put it into the lunchbox with the remaining pink dye. The colour wasn’t very deep and I have no idea how much pink dye went into the second skein in terms of powder. I wasn’t happy with the shade but because I hadn’t been precise enough when I dyed the first skein my chances of 2 identical unicolour skeins were gone. so I decided to have some fun instead . I threw in a little bit of blue and a little bit of purple powder here and there and carefully moved the yarn around so that the dye hit in places that I thought would look good. LESS IS MORE HERE – those dye powders are fairly potent!
Lock in the Colour!
Once the dyes have been applied, the next step is fixing. This step locks in the colour and according to the kit there are 3 ways of doing this. I chose to fix in the microwave. If you plan to do this, then make sure your lunchboxes can fit in your microwave!
To fix, I first lifted the skeins out of the lunchboxes and gently pressed out excess liquid with my hands. I then wrapped the skeins separately in cling film making sure that all the yarn was covered. I then fixed them in 1 lunchbox and followed the instructions exactly: 3 minutes at full power, a 1 minute break, and another 3 minutes at full power.
Washing and Drying
The yarn will be quite hot after the fixing step. I gave it a few minutes to cool and then gently peeled off the cling film. From here on, I washed one skein at a time.
Starting with very hot tap water, I rinsed the skein in the sink and very gradually turned the tap towards the cold side until the water was cold but not freezing. The yarn can handle both hot and cold temperatures - the critical thing is not to shock it. I went from hot to cold over about 5 minutes. If you have separate hot and cold steps you can probably do this step with a shower head. I then pressed (gently) the excess water out and gave it a brief wash in warm water in wool detergent. You can use baby shampoo if you don’t have wool detergent.
You’ll notice when you wash now that some excess dye comes out. This is good – better now than when you’re knitting with it. Rinse until the water runs clear. Let the yarn dry in an aired room away from direct sunlight. I dried it overnight on a clotheshorse in the bathroom.
A Few Tips About the Dye Mixture
- If you want to dye both skeins the same colour, you should make 1L of dye mixture and divide it evenly into two lunchboxes. Then, dye one skein per lunchbox. This is your best chance of avoiding obvious shade differences.
- If you are not sure how dark you want to go, start out by mixing less than 1 gram of powder with 500 ml water and dye. If you think the shade is too light, you can add more powder to the lunchbox until you reach a shade that you are happy with. Do bear in mind though that the colour may look slightly different after fixing, washing and drying. I guess one gets a feel for this over time.
- When you put the undyed skein into the lunchbox containing dye, the water will become lighter straight away. The dye binds the wool immediately (and irreversibly thanks to the vinegar). If you continue to add more powder to reach a deeper shade you will probably notice at some point that the water doesn’t get lighter anymore. At this point, you will have reached full strength and there is no need to add more powder. If you do go this way, it would be a good idea to take note of exactly how much powder you end up using for future reference.
This is how my yarn looked when it was washed and dried. I’m pretty happy with it and I’ve already swatched it for a new design. Judging by the colour, you can expect something girly.