Hand-dyeing with food colouring: Stove top method

hand dyeing yarn with food coloring on the stove top by hookabeeThis is the third post in a series I am doing on how to hand-dye yarn using food colouring. Previously, I harnessed the heat of the sun to dye a small skein of yarn bright yellow and slow cooked my yarn in a crock-pot until it was a gorgeous pink. This time I am going to show you how I used the stove top to dye my yarn teal.

If you missed the first post on hand-dyeing, make sure you read at least the first section on the basics of dyeing with food colouring and how to prepare your yarn.

Hand-dyeing using the stove top:

Unlike the sun and slow-cooker methods, the stove top method needs more of your attention during the process. You need to continuously monitor your yarn and dye solution to make sure it doesn’t get too hot while on the stove – you don’t want it to boil! Once you have dyed your yarn this way several times and know the temperature level on your stove that will give you a hot solution that doesn’t boil, the method is pretty simple.

This time I chose the teal dye from my box of 12 Wilton Icing Colours to dye the little 25 g skein of alpaca wool yarn I had made during my first dying experience.

My stove top dyeing protocol: (using 25 g of yarn)

  1. I pre-soaked my yarn for about 30 min in a bath made up of vinegar (2 tbsp) and water (2 cups). I used these volumes because my dye is blue (so needs more vinegar than yellows and reds, see DyeYourYarn.com), and the total volume was able to cover my yarn fully.
  2. In a small pot, I mixed 2 cups of water with 2 tbsp of vinegar and some Teal Wilton icing dye. I just estimated the amount of dye, but used no more than 1/4 tsp because I didn’t want extra, and therefore wasted, dye that wouldn’t be taken up by the yarn. I based this on the info found on the DyeYourYarn.com site for Wilton dyes: “[Use] 1/16 teaspoon Wilton®Icing Gel on .2 oz Lion Brand® Fishermen’s Wool. This amount of gel produces a saturated dyebath. Using more gel will leave food color in the dyebath that will not bond.” I then whisked the solution until most of the gel clumps were gone and dissolved.
  3. Next, I transferred the wet yarn from the pre-soak bath into the pot. Before you transfer your yarn, make sure that your two baths are not drastically different in temperature. This reduces the chances of your yarn felting. I then topped up the dye solution using some of the water from the soak bath until the yarn was fully covered. Finally, I turned the stove element on to about medium-low and allowed the solution to heat up, but not boil. Make sure the water doesn’t boil, otherwise your yarn may felt!stove top hand dyeing of yarn with food coloring by hookabee
  4. I then kept checking the dye solution every 5-10 min or so to make sure it wasn’t boiling and to see how much dye was still in the water solution (a clear water bath indicates that all the dye has been taken up by the yarn). I had my solution heating for quite some time (over an hour) and the dye bath was still not clear , so I started to wonder if I had used too much dye. I decided to just turn off the stove element anyway, placed a lid on the pot, and let the yarn sit in the dye bath as it cooled. Once cooled, the solution was almost clear! I am unsure whether I needed to heat the yarn for so long before letting it sit (and tutorials online have mixed directions) – more experimentation is needed!
  5. Once cooled, I removed the yarn and rinsed it to remove any excess dye. You don’t want to suddenly rinse your hot yarn with cool, or even warm water, because this may cause your yarn to felt, so make sure your yarn is completely cooled before this step.  Once rinsed, I gently squeezed the excess water out and hung the yarn to dry.

Done! I LOVE how my yarn turned out this time. The teal colour is gorgeous!stove top hand dyeing yarn with food coloring by hookabee

How does it compare to my other dyeing experiences? Because I was unsure of how long to “cook” the yarn before letting it cool, this method took longer than I anticipated. I had expected it to be faster than the slow-cooker, but more labour intensive (ie. you had to monitor it more), but it took almost as long as the slow cooker! I think that was an error on my part, however. I think it would have been fine heating the yarn for a shorter amount of time (either 30 min or until it almost boiled) before turning the element off and letting it cool in the dye.

And the yarn? I think this method dyed the yarn just as wonderfully as the previous two methods. Because I was monitoring it more, I did stir the yarn around a bit in the pot (unlike for the slow cooker), so the colour came out more uniform and solid than my pink skein did. If I had wanted a more mottled look, however, I could have easily just let it sit in the pot and not touched it so that some edges remained slightly out of the dye bath.

Stay tuned for a future post on the next, and last, method: Microwave dyeing!

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Until next time,
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Hand-dyeing yarn with food colouring: Sun method

hand-dyeing yarn with food colouring using the sun by @hookabeeI have wanted to dye yarn for a while now. Playing with colour and creating unique yarn that is all your own doing – so much fun! I researched different dyes, including acid dyes and natural dyes, but decided my first experiments would be with the safe and easy food colour dyes.

This post is the first in a series of tutorials on how to dye yarn with food colouring, each demonstrating a different method: using the sun, microwave, stove-top and crock-pot (slow cooker). Each method has one thing in common: HEAT. Heat is required for the dye to bind to your yarn and is necessary when hand-dyeing. Today’s method – using the SUN! But first, some prep work.

General info for hand-dyeing with food colouring:

What yarn can you use?

Your yarn needs to be made up of animal fibres, such as wool, alpaca, angora, or cashmere. Silk and nylon supposedly also work with food colouring, but I have not seen an example. Acrylic yarn and yarn made up of plant fibres, such as cotton and bamboo, will not work – the dye will not take to these yarns. If you want more of a pure colour that is most like what the dye looks like in the dye bath, you will want to use white yarn, but dying coloured yarn also works and you will get a different effect. I have chosen an alpaca and wool blend with a slight cream tone (Berroco Ultra Alpaca #6201).

What dyes can you use?

You can use any food colouring, such as those classic little dropper bottles, icing dyes, Easter egg dyes, and drink powders (eg. Kool Aid – but make sure there is no sugar added). I picked up the 12 pack of Wilton Icing Colours and will be using them for my experiments. Wilton dyes are concentrated, so you don’t need very much, there are many different colour options, and you can find them easily in your local craft store (and use a coupon!).Wilton icing dyes for dyeing yarn

Adding vinegar (or not!):

If your food colouring does not have an acid already included, which is most dyes except Kool Aid (already has citric acid), you will need to add vinegar (or other form of acid) to your dye bath.

How much vinegar do you add? I am following the ratios found on the website DyeYourYarn.com (a very helpful website, by the way!):  “a teaspoon per 8 ounces [of] water for reds and yellow and a tablespoon for blues”.

Preparing the yarn:

For my first time dyeing, I decided to keep it simple and make a skein of yarn all one solid colour. There are many different ways to prep the yarn to create different effects, such as colour gradients and multi-tonal results. In the future I want to experiment with different techniques, but I am sticking to simplicity for now!

Preparing the yarn is the same for each method of dyeing. You want your yarn to be loose so that the dye can penetrate all the fibres (especially if you want a solid colour), but you also don’t want a big tangled mess of yarn in the end. I divided my 100 g skein of yarn into four 25 g skeins using my weigh scale and a cereal box. I was able to use a cereal box because my skeins weren’t very large, but you may want to use something else to wind yours, such as the back of a chair, if you want a larger skein.

I simply placed the yarn on my scale and wound one end around the cereal box and stopped when the yarn on the scale was 25 g lighter. You want to wind the yarn in one layer, to prevent tangling. using a cereal box to wind yarn

Once I had the 25 g wound around the box, I tied the yarn in four different spots by weaving a piece of acrylic yarn through the strands. I used white acrylic yarn so it would not absorb any of the dye from my dye bath or bleed any colour onto the yarn I was dying. The weaving through the yarn prevents the yarn from becoming tangled as you handle it for dyeing.tying yarn for dyeing

Next, I slipped the yarn off the cereal box and had a circle of yarn that was ready to be dyed!yarn skein for hand dyeing

Pre-soaking the yarn:

This is a step where you can experiment with different methods. You can pre-soak your yarn before dyeing, or you can add your yarn dry to the dye bath – each method will create different effects. You also need to decide whether you want to add vinegar to the pre-soak bath or not.  You don’t have to add it to the pre-soak bath. I had read that adding vinegar at this stage results in yarn with a more solid colour, so that is what I chose to do this time.hand dyed yarn using Wilton icing colours and the sun

Hand-dyeing using the sun:

While it is already September, it is still summer here in Montreal with temps reaching 30°C each day, so I decided now was the perfect time to use the sun to dye some yarn. And what better colour to dye my yarn in the sun than yellow! Actually, to be honest I decided on the colour before even realizing this connection, but hey 😛

The idea of using the sun to dye my yarn came about when I read this post on Kool Aid Yarn Dyeing on the Knit One, Blog Two site, but I didn’t follow their protocol completely.

My sun dyeing protocol: (using 25 g of yarn)

  1. I pre-soaked my yarn for about 30 min in a bath made up of vinegar (2 tsp) and water (2 cups). I used these volumes because my dye is yellow (so needs less vinegar than blues, see DyeYourYarn.com), and the total volume was able to cover my yarn fully.
  2. In a one pint mason jar, I mixed 1.5 cups of water with 1.5 tsp of vinegar and some Lemon Yellow Wilton icing dye. I just estimated the amount of dye, but used no more than 1/4 tsp because I didn’t want extra, and therefore wasted, dye that wouldn’t be taken up by the yarn. I based this on the info found on the DyeYourYarn.com site for Wilton dyes: “[Use] 1/16 teaspoon Wilton® Icing Gel on .2 oz Lion Brand® Fishermen’s Wool. This amount of gel produces a saturated dyebath. Using more gel will leave food color in the dyebath that will not bond.” With the Wilton’s concentrated gel, I did find I needed to wisk the solution for some time before it all completely dissolved and was no longer clumpy.
  3. Next, I transferred the wet yarn from the pre-soak bath to the jar, closed the lid, and set the jar in the sun! Make sure that your two baths are not drastically different in temperature when you make the transfer. This reduces the chances of your yarn felting.hand dyed yarn using Wilton icing colours and the sun
  4. I then kept checking the jar every so often to see how it was doing. You want to leave the jar in the sun until the dye bath is clear – this means all the dye has been taken up by the yarn! I had my jar outside in the sun at 10:30 am, and it took until the late afternoon for it to become clear, but the duration will vary depending on the weather. When you check up on your yarn, you can shift the yarn around gently in the jar to make sure it dyes evenly, unless you want a more mottled effect, in which case leave it alone.
  5. Finally, once the solution was clear, I removed the yarn, rinsed it so that any extra dye was removed, and then hung it to dry outside in the shade. When handling the yarn while rinsing, make sure you are gentle and don’t agitate it too much or wring it dry or your yarn may felt.

And that is it! Once my yarn had dried I twisted it into a little skein and admired my work. It looks so yummy!! I smile whenever I look at it 🙂

hand dyed yarn using Wilton icing colours and the sun

Next method: slow cooker dyeing!
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Podcasts on creative designers and makers

Podcast recommendations blog post title by hookabeePreviously, I discussed two yarn related podcasts that I enjoyed listening too while commuting and jogging.  This week I am sharing two more podcasts, but these two are more general craft related shows.  Again, these shows may appeal more to other creative business owners, but everyone can enjoy the behind the scenes look at designers they love – and discover new designers!

You can listen to both podcasts on either iTunes (for iphones) or Stitcher (for Android phones).

Etsy Conversations Podcast

Etsy Conversations craft podcast recommendationI don’t currently run an Etsy shop, and don’t know if I ever will, but I still enjoy this podcast.  Each episode, the host, Ijeoma Eleazu, interviews a different Etsy shop owner to learn more about his/her store and business. Ijemoa hopes that her podcast will help new and not-so-new Etsy store owners increase traffic to their Etsy store and make more sales by learning from fellow Etsy shop owners.

Each interview is structured much the same way with the same questions, but sometimes Ijeoma will follow up on an answer and ask different questions more relevant to the artist she is conversing with.  While it is a bit predictable how each episode will play out because of the repetitive questions, it is neat to compare the different answers by different artists to the same question.

This show is very inspirational.  You get to connect and learn about other normal crafty artists just like you that are trying to build and grow their business.  You get to learn what worked for them and what didn’t, what inspires them and why they keep going despite the difficulties.  You also get to discover some great Etsy shops that you otherwise would not have found on your own.  Give it a listen!  There are so many past episodes already released, you won’t be running out of episodes to listen to anytime soon.

While She Naps with Abby Glassenberg

While She Naps craft podcast recommendationI love this podcast.  Abby Glassenberg is a stuffed animal designer like myself, but instead of crocheting hers with yarn, she uses a sewing machine and fabric.  Her podcast is not all about sewing, however; it is about the creative and craft industry in general.

She usually interviews one (or more) creative business owner(s) per episode and asks fantastic questions to get at the heart of their business.  I really like Abby’s interview style, which is both professional and conversational. She asks excellent questions and obviously does a lot of research into her guests before each interview.  I learn so much from her shows, even if she is interviewing someone who isn’t in the yarn industry.  I often find myself pausing the show to make a note somewhere to look something up later when I get the chance.

Abby also brings something new to the interview – at the end of most episodes both she and those she is interviewing share something they recommend.  Their recommendation could be a book, an app, a recipe, a website, a product – anything really!  It is something that is not necessarily related to running their business, just something they are loving at the moment.  I really enjoy this part of the interview.  I think it adds something fresh and you can discover some pretty neat things!  In some episodes she brings back past guests and the entire show is filled completely with recommendations – love it!

If you are thinking of starting up a craft business or already have one, don’t miss out on these podcasts!  Now I am on the hunt for more great shows to listen to while on the move.  Any suggestions?

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Until next time,

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