Dyeing for the First Time

Springtime indigo dyeing

I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for years – dye yarn! With the easy-to-use indigo dye kit I bought from Knit Picks, it was fairly simple to dye t-shirts and then yarn with my friend, Judie. I admit, I was excited but nervous. I was more worried once I started the process. Although, I had read the instructions, purchased the necessary materials and yarn, and had confidence, I soon realized that dyeing is much more complicated than it seems. It’s easy to put something into the dye bucket but controlling your results – that’s another dog indeed. Naturally, I have tons of respect for all of those hand dyers out there doing what they do and creating beautiful yarns that we love to ogle and want to take home.

The indigo is very strong at first and our t-shirts prove that by how dark they ended up being. We only put them in the dye bucket for a few seconds! I’m glad we tried the t-shirts first because that gave us a chance to really see what the dye would do. We did tie dyeing on the shirts but not on the yarn. We just wanted to see what colors we could come up with. Our finished yarn was definitely a faded denim color which has been wound but not knitted up yet. We used Knit Picks bare in DK and worsted and I must admit, there is not much difference in the two weights. They took the dye beautifully though, so no problem there.

It was a rather long morning into the afternoon of dyeing, hanging (you must hang the yarn and expose the indigo to the air to get the color), then washing, then hanging again. Indigo continues to bleed after it’s washed, so I make sure to wash my t-shirts with like items, i.e. jeans. Exhausting but rewarding, I recommend this activity as a way to understand why you pay more for hand dyed and hand painted yarns. For most of us, the price is well worth it.

Our next venture will be Kool-Aid dyeing which can be done inside (a boon now that we’re in the hot months) and we’ll be working with sock yarn. Can’t wait to figure out what my socks or shawl will look like with my newly dyed yarn. I’m thinking about utilizing my egg dyeing experience and seeing what sort of stripes and over dyes I can create for some interesting effects.