I've posted before about some of the techniques I use—here is another technique I use: simple multi pot dying.
--1--Pre-soak the wool. Wool take a long time to get wet—really wet. A pre-soak in cool water is a must for even dyeing. I allow at least 20 minutes, and sometimes longer. This is one part you don't want to rush. For solid tones like these, the soak water is just that water alone. If you pre-soak in acidulated water, the dye takes up unevenly—and you get more of a semi solid effect.
--2--the Dyes. This color way is done with a some TINFIX brand acid dyes I picked up when a local art supply (Pearl) store was going out of business (a few years ago now) . I got a mish-mash of colors—I like all of them but I wish I had a bigger variety—but by the time I learned about the going out of business sale, almost everything had been sold out. These colors are in my collection.. (the bold colors are the ones I used for the featured skein.)
Lemon Yellow (2)
Saffron Yellow (10)
Lacquer Orange (13)
Ruby Red (22)
Tryian Rose (30)
Indian Violet (43)
Primary Blue (54)
Celadon Green (60)
Brilliant Green (66)
Pouzzoles Brown (84)
I also use food coloring—and I have been very happy with the results. I “follow” the recipes for various colors that are printed on the box. Food colors are easy—but not really cheap—I got a bunch of boxes at a dollar store (that are fast disappearing) —but the local grocery charges 5 times as much! Yowza! I've also used easter egg dye tabs—I've never got the kits for 10¢ as some have—but at 50¢ they still are a good value. I am always on the look out for dyes!
I have once or twice cooked up vegetable matter (onion skins) for home made dye. But, really it takes up too much time and too much material.
--3--The containers. I use disposable food containers. I often re-use them (for dyeing only!) but they sometimes are a single use—The dyes sometimes stain the containers. If I had bigger containers, I could dye more yarn at once.. but then I would need a bigger microwave, or dye pot, and .... (again, a small kitchen, and small scale efforts.)
--4--The process-- This time: Wet, squeeze almost dry. Divide into the dye bath, then into the microwave. Heat and rest, (repeat as needed).
In this case, the divide part was pretty simple. Once--(and just once) with a mini skein, I wound out some yards, tied it off, and repeated to make a long stripe pattern. There are jig that make it possible for home dyers to make self striping and self patterning yarns—but I don't dye enough to make building a jig worth while.
But dividing a skein into 2 or 3 or even as many as 4 pots? Not that hard.
--5--The down side? It's hard to do more than 1 skein at a time. And it's hard to duplicate. I suppose if I measured out the dye instead of just adding a quantity—till I get a shade I like—I would have a chance at a second skein similar to the first. But I like the free hand results—the one of kind skeins. I am not interested in taking up dyeing yarn as a profession, I just want some interesting unique colors and skeins.
I don't have the room (or the inclination) to buy big dye post, and precision scales, and all the other equipment to go into large scale dyeing. besides, many colors or mordants are poisonous--and really shouldn't be used in a kitchen, but in a separate work area. I don't want to spend more time (or money, or effort)--and I don't have the space. So I am a bit of a dilettante about dyeing. It's a fun side line—but I want to spend most of my time knitting.
This—my most recent effort? 3 one quart (take out) containers—and the wool more or less evenly divided into each. The “bridges” between each pot had some plain yellow dribbled on—but the dye will travel up and tint the wet yarn (or you can help it by spooning some up for better coverage)—the technical term for this is osmosis. Wetting the yarn (I squeeze out the excess water when I divide, and wool I put into the dye bath is wet, but not dripping wet) helps with osmosis.
90% of the effort is passive. Soak the yarn, “cook” the yarn to set the dye(5 minutes in microwave at high power setting). Let it rest. (repeat as needed) Let it cool. Let it dry.
I've had failures—colors that aren't as bright, or are too intense, or that bleed too much (and muddy) or don't bleed enough (and I have white spots) but even the failure are pretty wonderful.
I am happy with these colors—now lets see how they knit up!