Dye What You Can When You Can-Dyelot, Fiber Choice, and Acidity


You know how store-bought yarn comes with a warning to make sure to purchase enough yarn at any given time to finish a project because of dye lot variations?

This holds even more true for hand dyeing, especially when you work with a method like solar or kettle dyeing.

It is exceptionally hard to maintain the same color across batches, especially if you have to vary fiber choice later on down the line. That can have a lot of fun; different protein fibers take up color in different ways-and even differing types of the same fiber such as different wool breeds will impact your color way. This can be a lot of fun and is actually part of the appeal of hand dyeing for me.

One of the greatest impacts on the dyeing process is the amount (and even type) of acid used. A ‘good’ dyer will make sure that every batch has the same amount of acid, of the same type, across the board. I’m a child of chaos so when I dye I rarely do that, though I do mark what I did in my dyeing notebook in case I have to try to mimic what I did before for a sale, trade, or supplement a custom job I gave as a gift.

When using a dyeing technique known for volatile results like solar dyeing or kettle dyeing, both of which being techniques that like to break colors, keep in mind you’re not going to get it to mimic perfectly every time. You can probably get the colors to break again but not in the same places to the same extent.

The bottom line: make sure you dye large enough amounts to fulfill your intended projects, or make sure you’re okay with two radically different lots in case it happens.

Both blues pictured are both Dubh batches; they differ slightly in acid strength and wool choice. The latter came out much darker and richer than the first, which came out a much brighter, stronger neon color, though the darker breaks are the shades in the second skein.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

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DIY: Dyeing Yarn with Koolaide (Part 2) {Spring Through Your Stash}


Part 2: Color Theory

…And not just the ‘normal’ color theory.

There are certain things to consider with Koolaide dyeing when thinking about color choice:

1. A solid or semi-solid dye is going to be easier to start out with, and see if you even want to continue with this. You may find you really hate the way that hot Koolaide smells.

2. While there are some tips and tricks to working with Koolaide and other food dyes, there are some limitations to what you can do with it.

3. It’s a fairly volatile process, so make sure you’re willing to either re-dye or be satisfied with ‘odd’ results. Some of my favorite yarns came from weird results.

4. Dye in big batches, because you may find it hard to replicate a yarn. Even skeins in the same pot will shift slightly, as a general rule.

Tips with working with color:

Koolaide, and even cake dye to a point, are generally pretty saturated, bright colors. Wilton’s and liquid dyes will have a wider color range, and liquid and gel have the added benefit of a black. If you only get one jar of a liquid dye, make it a black.

Blacks have a tendency of doing what’s called ‘breaking’, which is when your color seperates out and dyes into its component colors. Some people really hate breaking and will either overdye or dye another batch in hopes that that one won’t break. I actually love breaking; I want my yarns to look like they’re not machine dyed.

Getting familiar with a color wheel will help adjust the range of colors that you get. Adding a drop or two of green to a red batch will take it from Elmo red to something closer to blood, for example. But don’t overload with contrasting colors or your colors may go rusty or too brown-leaning muted. Which may work out too.

One of the easiest ways of toning down a bright dye pot is by overdying something other than plain white. I rarely dye stark white. You can successfully overdye any color with another color if you keep two things in mind: you have to be dyeing darker, and you have to be willing to take your results.

Finally, for this part of color theory: saturation point. There will come a point where you just have to live with the yarn as it is. You can generally almost always overdye a dark yarn darker, but eventually the yarn will take all the dye it can handle and you’re not going to get anymore color into the fiber.

spring through your stashThis year’s spring Knit-a-long is actually a Craft-a-long. Whatever your favorite craft is, it’s welcome!

The only requirement is that we’re trying to work down stashed materials. Every project that you work on for the CAL should incorporate stashed materials, the more the better. You can purchase materials as necessary, but the majority of your project(s) should use materials you already own. Beyond that, have fun! Knit, spin, crochet, paper craft, sew…whatever moves you! You can follow along in the comments or link up on the Spring Through Your Stash posts up every week. The Craft-a-long will run through the first day of summer.

Bloggers-I have started a new group board on Pinterest. Open to all DIY, craft, food, or other creative blogs, I would love to have you join. Joining instructions are posted on the board-join here.

Please, stop by this week’s Inspired Weekends!

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sunny simple life

little house in the suburbs

Firecracker and F1

I’ve discovered that my absolutely favorite thing to spin with Freya are grey rovings that spin up heathered. I was going to unspin this to pull out some of the extra twist (more on this later) and put this on my give away or trade pile, but honestly, I love it so much that I’m going to start saving the grey ones. I don’t know what I’ll do with them, but I want them.

I need to get this one set and skeined. I’m happy with this one. I’m calling it Firecracker. This is some of the superwash I got from the Joyful Sheep. This is another chain ply, but I hope on the heavier end (or at least fingering weight).


Wheel     Finished Fiber

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 mamal diane

Ladybug Blessings



carolyn’s homework

adorned from above

mom’s test kitchen

the tasty fork

family home and life

Second Monday Giveaway-Lakers

I’ve decided that I’ve love sending and receiving mail so much, I want to share with my readers!

So this is how this ‘column’ (I hate air quotes but I don’t know what else to call it) will work. It may or may not be every month, and it may or may not be something handmade. I may decide to share with you something I love, like a book or a canning kit. I might give away a gift card. We’ll see where this goes!

Right now, I’m shipping only to American readers. I’ve had packages disappear through customs before and I don’t want to have mail go missing. Maybe that will change with later giveaways.

lakerskeinThe mascot at the college I went to was the Laker. Here’s the thing, we didn’t really know what a Laker actually was. Seriously, four years on the campus and no one was really sure. Was it a goose? Was it an anchor? Was it some sort of anthropomorphized Great Lake?

Who knows. But our colors were gold and green. I purchased a grab bag of superwash fiber in assorted colors from the Joyful Sheep recently and one of the items in the bag was a partial braid of green and gold.

The wool should be superwash, with a prewash WPI of 14.3 to an inch making it heavy fingering or light sportweight. The wool has been chained ply for a 3 ply yarn.

This is a handspun wool with some places with some ‘character’. It’s not at the art yarn stage, but it’s definitely not a machine spun wool. Yarn has been rinsed and set but not washed with a wool wash or other soap. Colors are slightly darker than the photo.



-Handspun superwash wool

-108 yards

-Heavy fingering weight

-3 ply

Giveaway is open to American readers. Giveaway will be open until Thursday February 13th 2014. To enter, leave a comment with what you think a Laker would be if it were a mascot. A random comment will be chosen as the winner.


This comment from Liz is the winner of the 1st Second Monday giveaway: In my mind, a laker would be a type of bird: a skilled swimmer but with a non-remarkable coloration and shape, haha.

Thanks for your entries and look for the next round! Winner will be contacted by email. If the winner can not be contacted in three days, another entry will be chosen.


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memories by the mile

mamal diane

Brass Penny (Tuesday Fiber)

The photos are dark, but I don’t think I’m going to get a better shot even with better light. I was going for something on the brassy, brown end of yellow and orange. Think the carpets in 1970s movies. The yarn is nice and squishy. I’m not all that familiar with this Classic Wool; it’s been a long time since I’ve gone yarn shopping. I’m hoping to make another hat out of it. I don’t have a lot of warm tones to wrap with so I’m left with a lot of outfits topped with black.


Base yarn: Patons Classic Wool Roving in Aran (bulky, 120 yards)

Dyes: Various Wilton’s dyes in oranges and yellows, little bit of green, McCormick’s black

Acid: Fruit Fresh

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One of the very first projects that I knit out of my handspun was a shawl, knit with one of Lion Brand’s free patterns.

It’s true what they say about learning to spindle spin. Now that I’m capable of doing nice, even yarns at a light enough weight to still get fingering weight with multiple plies- I want to go back to that first yarn, because that yarn at least has character. My yarn still has character but it looks like a ton of stuff on the market. That shawl looks like nothing else out there.

Unfortunately though, it’s a fairly fragile yarn. It’s a single ply and even though that shawl doesn’t get the wear that it probably should, there were places that had drifted apart. I found a ball of dark hand dyed babydoll, and did a rough mending job. There was no way that I was going to be able to keep the pattern so I didn’t try.

I really wasn’t going for appearances- if it were my Wool Peddler’s I would care slightly more. Right then I was more concerned with warmth and functionality- and continuing the lifecyle of a piece that I’m never going to be able to mimic again.

Right now we’re getting on to evening and it’s finally starting to cool down- really cool down. If the wind shifts enough the lake smells like snow. It’s not the prettiest shawl in the world but it’s certainly warm and comforting.

posted to here

frugally sustainable

Horrific Knits First Giveaway!

I’m pleased to be offering Horrific Knits first giveaway!

Where is Everybody? is a one of a kind skein of handpainted, chain plied silk. I did not dye this sliver, but it is my handspun.

This skein is 90 yards and has its own personality. There are some eccentricities with this yarn. 90 yards is a fairly small skein of a luxury fiber, but Ravelry lists 322 patterns for projects in this yardage range. I really like this one- ostrich feather lace kerchief. It would also be lovely in a sampler shawl.

There are three ways of entering the giveaway:

1. Follow Horrific Knits on Twitter (@horrificknits) and comment here that you are entering with your screenname.

2. Like us on Facebook and comment here that you did so.

3. Leave a comment guessing what theme I’m using for project names this summer.

You can enter all three ways, so up to 3 entries a person. Please leave seperate comments for each way you entered. Winning entry will be selected using random.org. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, August 14th.

This giveaway is open to American and Canadian readers. Thank you!

Theme Clues

1. It is a well known series.

2. It is not currently on the air.

3. It is available streaming on Netflix at the time of this entry.

4. The projects using this theme are all named after episodes though not necessarily the entire title.

Titles used include:


-Mr. Denton on Doomsday


-For the Angels

-Where is Everybody?

This contest will run for 7 days. Winner will be selected using random.org.

6 months ago- Use It Up