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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The invisible finish stitch for open pieces

The invisible finish stitch for finishing open pieces in amigurumi by @hookabeeIn this tutorial I show you how to finish off an open amigurumi piece neatly in both continuous rounds and joined rounds. [note: Looking for a tutorial on how to finish closed pieces instead? Visit this page: closing pieces neatly.]

Continuous rounds: 

When working in continuous rounds with amigurumi your piece will inevitably end with a jog: the end of the round will be higher than the beginning of the round, resulting in a step up.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee

If the piece will simply be flattened and attached to another piece, this isn’t too much of a problem and it won’t necessarily be noticed, but sometimes your piece will remain open and will not be joined to another, so this step, or jog, will be an eyesore. Or, maybe you find it easier to join a piece to another when the surfaces are more even, so would like to reduce the jog. What do you do? You can make a “fake” stitch that slopes down from the higher, end of the round to the lower, start of the round, making the difference in height less noticeable. Here is how to do it:

(a) Once you have finished crocheting your piece, cut the yarn, leaving about a 6 inch tail (unless specified otherwise). Pull the working loop all the way out, until the end of the yarn has been pulled through the middle of the last stitch.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee(b) Thread your yarn needle with the yarn tail. Skipping the next stitch (the first stitch of the last round), insert your needle from the inside to the outside into the second stitch.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee(c) Insert the needle back into the original stitch the yarn tail comes from (the last stitch of the last round), going through the middle of the stitch from top to bottom, bringing your needle to the front of the piece.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee(d) Pull the yarn tail until the new “stitch” is the same size as the surrounding stitches. Done!invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee

Want the yarn tail on the inside of the piece?

No problem! Simply reverse the process:
(a) bring your needle through the second stitch from the outside to the inside of the piece, then (b) bring it through the middle of the stitch the yarn tail comes from, towards the inside of the piece.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee

And that is it! Looks good, doesn’t it! Nice and neat, with no noticeable jog, or step-up. Basically, with this technique you are making a new stitch over top of the first stitch of the last round, replacing it (so you still have the same number of stitches in the last round). This new stitch can act as any other stitch, so if you are going to be attaching your piece to something else, simply treat it like a normal single crochet.

Joined rounds:

You can also use this same technique to finish joined rounds neatly! Don’t know what joined rounds are? Read my tutorial on the technique first. I like using the invisible finish stitch with joined rounds because it covers up not only the first stitch of the last round (like for continuous rounds above), but ALSO both the last joining slip stitch and chain, creating a more seamless finish at the top of the piece.

(a) Do NOT join with a slip stitch at the end of the last round. Instead, cut the yarn and pull the end through the last stitch, just like for continuous rounds above.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee(b) Thread your yarn needle with the yarn tail. Skipping the slip stitch, chain AND first stitch of the round, insert your needle from the outside to the inside into the second stitch.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee(c) Insert the needle back into the original stitch the yarn tail comes from (just like for continuous rounds), going through the middle of the stitch from top to bottom, bringing your needle to the inside of the piece.invisible finish stitch for amigurumi by hookabee(d) Pull the yarn tail until the new “stitch” is the same size as the surrounding stitches.InvFinishStitch9

Just like for continuous rounds, this new “stitch” can act like all the other stitches in the round, replacing the first stitch (so you still have the same number of stitches in the end).

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Until next time,
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Joined rounds in amigurumi – colour changes and stripes

Perfect stripes with joined rounds in amigurumi by @hookabeePerfect stripes with joined rounds in amigurumi by @hookabeeIf you want “perfect” stripes in your amigurumi, you need to use joined rounds, versus continuous rounds. Don’t know what I am talking about? Read my joined rounds tutorial first before continuing with this tutorial on colour changes!

I don’t use any fancy techniques for my stripes. No cutting of the yarn after every round, using a needle, or removing your hook from the working loop to conduct some intricate manoeuvring – and I think my stripes come out really great!

I use the simple method of changing colours during the last yarn over of a stitch. Unfamiliar with this method? Read my general colour change tutorial first! Which stitch you change colours in differs, however, when you are working in both loops vs. back loop only (blo), so make sure you choose the method that is appropriate for your pattern.

 

Both loops:

When working in both loops for your amigurumi, change colours at the last yarn over of the last stitch of the round, BEFORE the joining slst. Photos: (a) just before last sc of rnd; (b) just after last sc of rnd, with new colour added during last yarn over; (c) just after joining slst and ch with new colour; (d) result!

Stripes with joined rounds in amigurumi by @hookabee

BLO:

When working in the blo for your amigurumi, change colours at the starting chain of the round, AFTER the joining slst. Photos: (a) just after the joining slst of previous rnd; (b) making the ch at start of rnd with new colour; (c) just after ch with new colour; (d) result!

Stripes with joined rounds in amigurumi by @hookabee

 

I now have a video demonstrating both these techniques! Find it on my YouTube channel: stripes video tutorial

I really love these simple ways to create great stripes, and I hope you do to!

Don’t forget to sign up for my amigurumi newsletter to receive emails filled with ami fun. You can also follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram, and pinterest to keep up to date on all things hookabee.
Until next time,
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