This past Saturday I went to my first ever yarn dyeing class. I have been itching (not dying, avoiding bad puns here) to do this for a long time. In the last few months as a part of my knitty, fiber-loving journey I decided that this was the next stop. As I watched podcasts and explored the many and wonderful online shops that sell hand-dyed yarn and saw all the amazing colorways and creative and intriguing names I knew that this was something I wanted to do.
My lovely pussy-hat wearing and proofreading friend Jen knew Sonya, owner of City Stitch Yarn Shoppe who teaches a variety of classes and she arranged one to teach us how to dye. Jen and I were joined by our friend Maggie Orr. Maggie is a designer on Ravelry with numerous beautiful patterns both free and paid. You can find her patterns on her Maggie Menzel page.
The day of the class was beautiful day and only a 30 minute drive to the location (music blasting). Sonia, our teacher, was the ideal instructor, full of experience, sound information, and with a personality that kept things both calm and fun.
While the skeins of undyed yarn (100% Merino) were soaking in hot water on the stove to prep them for taking dye, we chose our colors. Since we were working as a group we had to agree on 5 colors between us. We settled on Gunmetal Grey, Teal, Orange, Purple, and Dark Blue.
Sonia had set up a screen laying over plastic containers for each of us. When the skeins were ready each of us laid ours in a long oval donut on the screen just over the containers. We needed to work while the yarn was still hot so each of us began selecting the colors which were in squirt bottles, like the ketchup bottles you would see at a diner, and began applying the colors. We would apply a color here or there, another color, step back and contemplate the look and then chose which color was needed next. Once we were satisfied with the look, we carefully flipped the skein over and repeated the process on the other side. We checked for sections that had not been reached by the dye and “filled in the blanks” with more color.
Once we were happy with our products we carefully squeezed the yarn with our fingers to help lightly blend colors that were adjacent to each other.
The next step took us to the sink to rinse our yarn with hot water until it ran clear.
Then Sonia said, “This is the part where the neighbors look at you funny”. We all trooped outside and, right on a busy street, swung our brilliant lassos of yarn to spin out as much of the moisture as possible.
Jen, who lives near the shop, offered to take them all home to hang and dry and bring them back to the shop for skeining before Wednesday Knit Night.
We were all so excited to begin dyeing that none of us thought to take pictures of the class. But we did capture the end results.
Here is a pic of mine in the drying stage:
Now keeping in mind that, while we each chose different colors to work with, we were still drawing from the same pool of 5 colors. Here are each of our works in the skein:
I love how the very different results show the creativity and personality of each one of us. So amazing the endless variety and artistry that each of us can create.
We, of course, had a great time selecting fitting names for our colorways. The top skein is my “Galaxy Dust” since it has a darker tone but with pops of color. The middle skein is Maggie’s, it hinted at a green pool inhabited by goldfish. This became “Koi Dreaming”. Jen’s with its deep blues, greens, and grays made us think of the colors of the deep ocean. So it was christened “Mariana Trench”.
After bringing it home I caked it up and then knit up a small swatch to see how the colorway knit up. This was my result:
This lighting is not ideal, but I can say I’m really pleased with how this is working up. It is a fingering weight yarn, but has no nylon, so I will not be making socks with this one. I’m considering a Space-themed shawl to touch on both the name of this colorway as well as my recent shawl knitting streak. But I’m going to sit and admire it for a while before deciding just what it should become.
I’m really looking forward to digging deeper into the art of yarn dyeing and exploring the variety of colorways that can be created. To that end I’ve purchased :
I can’t wait to read, learn and experiment. Soon I expect to see strands of color hanging from my back porch as they dry. Oh, the joy.
In other News:
For those of you who enjoyed Yarn, Spring, and All Good Things and are wondering how our chicks are doing. I am happy to report that they all seem to be thriving. They have graduated from brooder to coop but have not yet made their first foray outside. I check on them regularly and while I hope they will become more accustomed to my presence, right now I am still a big, scary monster, it seems.
Things are greening up around the homestead and I’ve been doing a roll call of herbs to see what has come back this year. So far Oregano, Thyme, Lemon Balm, and Mint have shown themselves. I’m considering what will be revived or added to the herb garden. Today I potted Basil, Cilantro, and sowed some German Chamomile for tea. There will definitely be other additions, but I am still choosing just what those will be.
Since I’m still reveling in the joy of the creative process my wish for you is that you will thoroughly enjoy whatever creative outlet you claim as your own.