Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dyeing Cellulosics

These lovely knitted pieces are from Christina aka Yarnplenty on Ravelry. We are both inspired by the free wheeling knitting of Jane Thornley. For some time I have collected orphan balls of yarn from sales and leftovers from other projects which I would someday like to use up in luscious garments filled with color, texture and sparkle. My attempts are usually either too controlled or a mishmash. But after making my Purplemania Capelet, I am feeling like I am closer to the desired look. I have been studying the other Thornley-ites and think I understand the approach, which begins with a theme.

My theme begins with this hand spun yumminess from Lynne Vogel. These two balls of beauty are the most expensive yarn I have ever bought and nothing ever was the right use for it until now. I now realize it needs to be included in something rather than having the stage all to itself. I have gathered likely suspects from my stash and noticed a dearth of ribbon-y, shiny, silky in amongst the smooth and fuzzy. Hmmm. I do believe I need more of the former to go with the latter.
While I was in town yesterday, I made an attempt to find something appropriate and came up empty handed. Nuthin' was even close! So I sucked it up and admitted that I already had the necessary stuff in the BIG BOX OF WHITE YARN.

My dirty secret is that I have had these yarns in my closet for about 15 years. Horrifying I know. Unused because they were purchased originally to dye for sale when I was still with Artfabrik. Since they remind me of work, I have studiously avoided doing anything with them, until now.
In the first picture are viscose, aka rayon yarns, or rayon/cotton or rayon/silk combos. Nice and slinky and shiny. Just what I need.
The second photo is of all cotton yarns, with boucle, slub, thick and thin and chenille textures. O my. I really have all that I need...just have to dye them.

I don't mind dyeing wools which are pretty fast in the microwave (see tutorials on the sidebar). But all of these white yarns are cellulosics, or plant fibers and require using Procion Dye.
OK I have it. I can do this. But first I must wind off yardage into skeins.
Then presoak all of the skeins in soda ash +water and mix dyes and cover everything with plastic...
I have my work cut out for me. Stay tuned for the color filled results.


  1. Oh it is all so exciting. I can't wait to see the dyed yarns and what you will do with it. The colors and textures are yummy.
    I too get lazy when it comes to dying. I just don't really enjoy it.
    I must go now and check the link to Jane Thornley. I've got lots of yarn lurking in bins and boxes too.

  2. This style of knitting, mixing textures, colors and yarns together is very similar to a local knitter and author here in New Mexico: Patricia Werner. Her book "Dazzling Knits" uses lots of colors and textures and plenty of modular knitting too, which I know you like Melody. Unfortunately, this book is out of print and now costs a fortune. However, you could see if your local library owns a copy or do an Inter-Library loan (ILL) for a small fee they will track you down a copy from another library to borrow. The library in Corrales, NM (where Patricia lives) has this book, as well as the library in Rio Rancho, NM which is just up the hill from Corrales. If you haven't seen this book before I know you will love it!

  3. I thought when I saw that first yarn "that is handspun!" And then I saw that you got it from my good friend Lynn. Melody, you should learn to spin your own yarn! Its so fun, and the color possibilities are endless.

  4. I have a lot of yarn that would work well in this type of project. I must go through and weed it out.

  5. Marijke van Swaaij12:11 PM

    Good luck with the dyeing. Looking forward to see the colours. I admire your colourchoices and feeling for it very much and enjoy it always.

  6. It is Iike quilting on a stick. Can't wait to see your results.

  7. Hey, Mel... I have not dyed yarn, but do dye silk scarves and I use the microwave to nuke them, after soda soaking and dyeing. Bet you could speed up your process by nuking! Or another dirty secret I have learned is that things don't always need to be batched for long periods. Usually after 8 hours in a warm spot, the dyes have bonded well, so that speeds things up too. And when I dye using low water immersion, I pre-soda soak and only leave the item in the dye for about an hour before I rinse/wash.
    I can't wait to see what you end up with, and I'm gonna have to check out the links you posted. I'm a lazy knitter, and find that combining yarns gives me the look I want without having to get fancy with changing my stitch!

  8. I am a follower of Jane Thornley's technique as well. I will tell you that I was very intimidated at first because of the control thing too. But now that I have made a number of “Jane” inspired garments I can’t go back to knitting with just one yarn. You have a lovely group of yarns and your Purplemania Capelet was outstanding! With your sense of color you will do great things. Love your blog and the daily dawgs!


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