Easter egg dyes are on clearance today, and what a bargain they are – because you can transform your white or ecru yarn into bright and beautiful variegated or self-striping skeins with nothing more than those little tablets and a bottle of vinegar. You must use animal fibers such as wool for this to work. Acrylic or plant based yarns need a different sort of dye.
I started with a white skein of Red Heart Heart and Sole sock yarn. I know Red Heart gets a bad rap at times, but I love this sock yarn! It’s a nice wool/nylon blend that works up great and as a bonus, it’s readily available at large craft stores. To make self striping yarn in three colors, I wound the skein around three chairs.
At this point you need to make some decisions. What sort of project are you planning with this yarn and how wide would you like your stripes to be? If you’re picky about that, you’ll want to swatch the yarn with the needles you’ll use, frog one row to measure the amount of yarn it took for one row of the project, then multiply that by the number of rows you’d like each color to be. Then you’ll wrap that amount of yarn around one chair before moving on to the next. I’m just not that picky. I knew I wanted to make a project with a larger diameter than socks – probably a baby hat or a stuffed toy, so I let the chips fall where they may and decided to wrap each color 10 times around the back of the chair. Once you’ve wrapped around each of the 3 chairs, you’ll simply continue, wrapping around each chair in sequence until you’ve used the entire skein. Put four figure eight ties around each skein to keep them together. (I used two for each skein and spent way too long untangling when the dyeing was done!)
Now you can slip your seperate but still attached skeins off the chairs and put them in water with a little vinegar to soak for at least 30 minutes. While your yarn is soaking, you can prepare your Easter Egg dyes by following the package instructions. Some of the dye kits tell you not to use vinegar in certain colors, such as red. I no longer had the instructions for my dye tablets, so I prepared them by allowing them to dissolve in about a half cup of vinegar. I used 3 tablets of each color because I wanted my colors super vibrant. You can get more detailed dye information for Easter egg and other food safe dyes at dye your yarn. Once the tablets were dissolved, I added about another half cup of water to each color. I then placed each little skein in its own ziplock bag and applied the dye using a large syringe. You can use a measuring cup, a turkey baster, or whatever you have that allows you to get the dye into the bag neatly. I left a bit of white at the point where the yarns meet. The dye wicks up the yarn to cover that on its own and leaving a small length of white yarn to allow for that keeps the colors from running into each other and becoming muddy in those areas.
At this point, I plop all 3 plastic bags into a glass pyrex baking dish and put them in the microwave, microwaving them for short blasts of 2 to 3 minutes at a time for a total of 4 to 5 times. Allow them to cool totally, then rinse them in their separate bags. That way if there’s color bleed, they won’t bleed onto each other. If any of the colors are continuing to bleed after several rinses, add another half cup or so of vinegar to the bag and microwave another 4 to 5 times in short blasts of 2-3 minutes. Repeat until yarn is rinsing clear after 3 to 4 rinses.
Squeeze the water out gently and roll the yarn into a towel. Press on the towel to absorb moisture and hang your yarn to dry. You’ll find out how well you secured your skeins when you wind it into a finished skein. If you didn’t place enough figure eight ties before dyeing, you’ll pay the price now with lots of fiddly untangling. If you did a good job in the beginning, reskeining will be a breeze.
and you’ll have a gorgeous self striping skein to admire! I had so much fun with this project, that I thought I’d host a home-dyed skein swap. Fun! If you’d like to participate, feel free to pop in and join our Ravelry Group. Try something new and make a new Crafty Friend as well!