How to Dye Self Striping Yarn (without special tools!)
Have you ever tried to dye self striping yarn? Ever notice that you need complicated (and expensive) tools like a warping board used with a loom? Well, I figured out a way to do it very inexpensively and without special tools. All you need is some over the door hangers! So, let me show you how to dye self striping yarn.
What exactly is Self Striping Yarn?
The definition according to Crochet.About.com is “Self striping yarn is a type of variegated yarn which has two or more colors. Often there are long lengths of each color before the color changes to the next. When you crochet or knit with self-striping yarn, the yarn will typically create a striped project on its own without the crafter having to do any color changes.” I would also add that the color patterns repeat continuously and predictably throughout the knit or crochet project.
Why is Self Striping Yarn so different to dye?
The main difference is the need for long color runs. The average adult knitted sock takes approximately 15 – 20″ of yarn per row. So, say want 4 rows of midnight blue, you need to dye about 60″ (5 feet) of the yarn midnight blue. As you can see, if you plan to use multiple colors, your yarn skein has to be very long.
Step 1: Supplies Needed:
– Yarn (natural wool, I used superwash merino)
– Over-the-door Hooks (4) – (check the dollar store)
– Acid Dyes (For protein fiber yarn)
– Sponge Brushes
– A Door
– Plastic cover for your table
– Scrap yarn
– Pots and Pans for dyeing
– Plastic wrap (optional)
– Stove or Hot Plate
Step 2: Prepping the Yarn
Attach the hooks onto the door, two at the top corners, and two at the bottom corners.
Tie one end of the yarn to one of the hooks, then begin wrapping the yarn from hook to hook, all around the door until you get to the end. If you have more than one skein, tie the ends together to form one large skein. Yes, you will get some exercise doing this!
To keep this very long skein from becoming a tangled mess, you’ll want to tie pieces of the scrap yarn in figure 8’s at about 8-10 places all along the skein. (Here’s an example).
Now, very carefully remove the yarn from the door. Fill one of your dye pots with a few inches of warm water and add 1 cup of white vinegar. Place your skein of yarn in the pot and let it soak for about 30 minutes. Remove it from the water and squeeze out the excess water
Step 3: Dyeing the Yarn
Now you have to decide how many different colored stripes you want and how wide each stripe should be. I used 4 different colors: Cranberry, Turquoise, Chartreusse and Yellow Sun. My skein measured 14 feet and I wanted the Cranberry and Turquoise stripes to be twice as wide as the Chartreusse and Yellow Sun. I divided my skein as follows: Cranberry 56″, Turquoise 56″, Chartreusse 28″, Yellow Sun 28″. I covered my table with plastic wrap and then partitioned my yarn as pictured:
There are many different methods of dyeing your yarn, and I decided to hand paint it with my sponge brushes. Usually, I use squirt bottles, but superwash yarn tends to suck up the dye very quickly and the sponges allow me to apply the dye more evenly to a larger area than the squirt bottles.
You can see the full step by step instructions for dyeing the yarn and setting the dyes in myHow to Hand Paint Yarn Tutorial.
If my yarn had been fingering weight instead of DK, I would have more rows per color but I’m very happy with the way the stripes turned out. Now, I just have to start knitting some socks!
Have you tried Dyeing Self Striping Yarn? What method did you use?
Check out my Beginner's Guide to Hand Dyeing Yarn!