Friday, February 19, 2010

Dying yarn for Moonshine

Moonshine has been knitting since she was four. The ability came on suddenly after a stomach virus. Stranger things have happened.

Since then she has knit in fits and starts. She has finished a few projects-- simple dolls, purses, washcloths-- some with help, some on her own. Most recently she has been working on a sweater for her doll. It's a pattern we're making up as we're going along by holding it up to the doll. It's not very exciting or interesting. The yarn was pretty in the skein, but knit up it kind of looks like vomit.

Anyway, she hasn't worked on it much, and I don't have the heart to push her on it. I've seen her wistfully watching Sunburst work on her knit foxes-- and I'm feeling like she needs a more inspiring project. Something that doesn't look like vomit. Something that she can visually conceptualize. And something that will push her skills to a higher level.

She can knit and purl with a fair amount of ease, but I suddenly realized, I had forgotten to teach her how to stripe. In the past I just did it for her. It's time, don't you think?

While I was thinking about it, I figured why not let her dye the yarn like our friends in Wales do. I had two skeins of Knit Picks Bare yarn lying around, so we roughly divided each one into thirds and made six small skeins. Dying them was "easy, peasy," as Moonshine has taken to saying. We soaked them overnight in a vinegar water mix, and then she dyed them with food coloring mixed in water.

We dyed the yarn in small garbage bags for easy clean up. The purple isn't as pleasing as we'd hoped... but it will do.

We heat set the dyes with steam. Here they are in the steamer basket. We had to be careful to keep the skeins from touching, or else the dye transferred.

Then we spooned the steamed yarn into a colander to cool a bit. Since we used superwash yarn, we didn't have to be too careful about felting. Once they cooled enough, we soaked each skein in a bowl of water to wash out the vinegar smell and any extra colorant.

We hung them up to drip dry in the shower, and the next day we transferred them over to the radiator.

As punishment... no, not really... I'm having Moonshine and Sunburst work together to wind them into balls. There has been a rift growing between them lately, mostly an age thing (I hope!), so I thought having them work together would be a nice start. It takes a lot of patience to hold yarn for someone.

They have been taking turns holding and winding. I think it's helping. Today they have been much more cooperative with each other, and Moonshine is excited to get to work knitting her new project: a rainbow-striped flute case.


  1. How lovely!! FaerieFe is making Mr. Marvel a scarf - using two PENCILS! She was given lovely new bamboo needles at Christmas, but if using pencils is what inspires her, who am I to argue?!

    I have been itching to dye some yarn, too...the color variation is gorgeous.

    And hurrah for cooperation!!

  2. I really enjoyed visiting your blog today. Your yarn colors turned out beautifully!

  3. Just found your blog. Four of my five children knit, the other one is still a bit young. We've never dyed our own yarn though, it all looks great

  4. Lovely vibrant, warming colours. All that dyeing must have been a lot of fun.


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