Got my Mad Scientist On

I’ve been having fun experimenting with dying my own yarn. Spinning is such fun that it seemed the logical next step- take my wool, spin it into yarn, dye it pretty colors and Knit. All. The. Things. What could be better?

As previously mentioned, my first couple of efforts have been with Kool Aid. Simple, non-toxic so dinner can cook on one burner and yarn on another. And the funky smell- Fake Fruit + Wet Wool? It’s like perfume to a knitter’s nose! The only downside is the colors are a bit limited. I learned you can make them less obnoxiously bright by simply using less of them, but you’re still dealing with a fairly straightforward Box of 8 Crayola‘s kind of selection.  Fun for a while, but perhaps not what I want to Knit. All. The. Things. with, ya know?


The thing is, when I first read about Kool Aid dying, there was a blurb about using Wilton Icing Gels for dying wool as well. This idea intrigued me. The dyes are easy to come by- Wal-Mart and Michael’s regularly stock (and put on sale!) a host of colors! And I’ve already played with combining different colors to change the outcome. I’m familiar with the concept, just translating it to a different medium. Still has the same non-toxic benefit as Kool Aid dying vs other chemical dyes…  How hard can this be?!

So yesterday I took the plunge.  Well, my yarn did at any rate. First, this lovely skein of undyed Merino that I spun

Went for a bath. Since I was using the icing gel which contain no acid on their own, I had to give it a good long soak in some hot water & lemon juice first. Vinegar, I’m told, also works, though I only had cider vinegar on hand and I wasn’t loving the sensation I thought THAT might produce for my olfactory enjoyment…

Next for the magic potions. First the whole skein had a swim in a kettle of “Copper” straight from the Wilton collection. Dissolved a quarter-ish of the pot of icing gel into a cup or so of  boiling water and added it to the pot-o-yarn, gave it a gentle stir to distribute the color throughout, brought it up to a good simmer, killed the heat & let it soak for 15 or 20 minutes. This is the result

Next, the yarn spread on a cookie sheet covered in plastic wrap got hit with a few more colors to add visual interest. Some burgundy and some brown, both straight from the gel pot, then some Delphinium Blue and some Juniper with a bit of black added for extra depth. Used the squeeze bottles to randomly drizzle the colors onto the skein, heavy on the burgundy and brown, lighter on the green & blue, gave it all a bit of a squish to help the colors saturate the layers of yarn, wrapped it all up like a sausage, stuck it in the steamer basket, covered it and let it “cook” for a good 20 minutes.

Once the yarn sausage was properly cooked, I unwrapped it, gave it a good rinse until I felt the water was running clear then gave it a final bath with some Soak & a splash of Synthropol. Squished, squeezed and otherwise removed as much water as I could, hung it up to dry overnight and ended up with this this morning:

I can’t wait to turn this into a fabulous pair of socks! Might have to create my own pattern for this one so I can say these are MY socks from start to finish. Well, all but the actual growing of the sheep anyway…


4 responses to “Got my Mad Scientist On

  1. Nice! the scientist in you prevailed! 🙂

    • Could have very well been dumb luck, but this makes two dying experiences in a row that I’ve been very pleased with. Just wish I’d have time this morning to take a better picture!

  2. Clearly it’s the mad scientists who have the good experiments. That merino is gorgeous!

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