Yarn Dyeing With Acid Dyes

Recently I decided that I needed to learn yet another skill (because apparently I needed more hobbies in my life), and signed up for a yarn dyeing class at my local yarn shop. There were really a few reasons for this. First, I thought it would be a fun and interesting skill to learn. Second, I thought if I liked it, it might be a way to save some money on sock yarn (I seem to always be drawn to the more expensive sock yarns – what can I say, I like nice yarns!).

I’m happy to report that I loved the class. I really felt like I got my moneys worth from this class as well – it was a full afternoon and you walked away with two skeins of yarn that you dyed yourself, plus a ton of skills. I’d been considering learning the art of dyeing wool yarn and cotton fabrics for a few years but I guess I just put it off because I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of teaching myself something that seemed kind of complicated. As soon as I saw this class was being offered, I signed up right away. I feel like if I hadn’t taken the class, I probably would have continued putting off learning how to do it myself. I feel like now that I’ve taken this class I could jump in and learn other dyeing processes on my own (I am planning to try some dyeing with natural plant materials at some point, as well as trying shibori indigo dyeing).


Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

I’d like to talk about the acid dyeing process a bit, but this is not a step-by-step instruction guide because I feel like this is something better learned from an experienced person at your local yarn shop. But if you’re just interested in what it takes to acid dye or if you’re considering learning how to do it yourself, my experience may be a starting off point. It’s also just a really neat process! Also, I should mention that some of the dyes can be very harmful if not used correctly or if you breath them in, so always make sure you know what you’re working with, the proper way to handle those dyes, and what the risks are. Another important thing is to have a separate set of tools specifically for your dyeing projects – never use your kitchen utensils or pots if you’re planning on using them for food. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on dyeing utensils – dollar store items will definitely do the trick.

The first thing is to prep your fiber. We used two different wool yarns in the class, but in the future I will be dyeing primarily with a merino wool and nylon blend sock yarn. Prepping the fiber consists basically of washing it in a wool soak to remove any residual lanolin (kind of like the natural water repellant in sheep’s wool) and then soaking it in a bath of pre-treatment solution for the dye to better adhere to the fiber.

Next is prepping your dye and mixing colors (if you desire). We used Jacquard brand dyes, which already came in an amazing palette of colors, so my first skein was dyed with unmixed colors, but I did use a mixed dye on my second skein. Some of the colors people mixed were unbelievable – and the Jacquard dyes were so vibrant, even after being mixed.

Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

This beauty was from one of my classmates – aren’t the colors just amazing?!

Once all the wool and dye prep was finished, we starting dyeing. Once the coloring was finished, we had to set it with heat (which, by the way, I’ll need to buy a microwave if I want to do this at home in the future). If you’ve set the dye properly, you will not get any color runoff from your skein, even when it is squeezed. My first skein was perfect, but the second one had a ton of color runoff. I ended up having to rinse in water until no more dye was being released. The colors in the rinsed skein were still very vibrant, but I definitely went wrong somewhere along the line (I’m thinking either way too much dye or I just didn’t heat process it long enough – or a combination of the two).

The final step is to set the dyed wool in a wool wash bath and then let it dry. Easy as pie? Yes!

Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

Unbelievable colors and combinations from people – no two skeins were the same!

I loved learning yarn dyeing! And I am kind of obsessed with it now. I’ve already got a list of some of the color combinations I want to try next. Plus, I have quite a significant staycation coming up, so there is going to be a bit of yarn dyeing in my future this summer. I’ll definitely share some more finished yarn dyeing projects on my blog in the future (and hopefully some of the projects I knit with the yarn). I’d also love to hear about your experiences with yarn or fabric dyeing if you have any – and what sort of advice you have for this new yarn dyer!

Acid Dyed Wool Yarn

These two are my finished products – I really couldn’t get enough of that fuchsia!

I’m Obsessed With Weaving

I think the title says it all, but I am truly madly deeply in love with weaving (but not that Savage Garden song. Okay, maybe a little). I’ve been weaving like nobody’s business. I even signed myself up for a weaving challenge on Instagram (follow The Weaving Kind on Instagram if you want to participate. Or just follow them, they post beautiful weavings).

When I first started knitting, I really loved chunky yarns and pretty much wanted to buy them all. But I’m not so much in to knitted things using chunky yarns. I mean, I do like them, but I definitely prefer little dainty stitches. Anyway, I’ve discovered that I love love love weaving using chunky yarns. And even more, I love throwing in really, really chunky roving to add some textural interest. Anyway, I thought I would share my most recent weaving, which I am absolutely over the moon about – it is hands down my favorite weaving to date.

Chunky Wool Wall Weaving

This one was woven using an extremely chunky yarn (same used for fringe) and then natural undyed roving of the exact same color. The funnest part was twisting and pulling the roving to give it that cloud look. And this weaving is so unbelievably soft. Clearly I am most drawn to natural colors for my weavings, but I have been doing some experimenting with more colorful weavings (I’ll share those another time). I’m pretty much counting down the minutes until I can start another weaving.

Speaking of challenges, the fabric for my April/May Wardrobe Architect Challenge should arrive this week. Yes, I haven’t even started that project yet. I’m excited to get back to my sewing machine for a me-project, but I do wish I were an octopus that could sew, knit, and weave at the same time. And a clone for gardening? That would work!

What I’m Making: More Wool Wall Weavings

So a few weeks back I wrote about making my first wee wall weaving. Since then, I have been weaving every chance I get. I made several more of the wee weavings (follow me on instagram if you want to see all my weavings), but I also started my first large weaving. I had considered purchasing another peg loom, but I instead decided to try out Loom & Spindle’s “small” loom (which I love! I just need to play with it a bit more). When I say small, it is actually very large compared to my mini peg loom. But of course, in comparison to some of the mega looms I’ve seen, this one is actually small-ish.

Making a larger weaving is much more time consuming, of course, but I also think it requires a lot more planning. With the wee weavings, I felt like I could just wing it and not have to do too much planning. With the larger weaving, you need to think about how much wool you’ll need, what sort of pattern you want to do, and so on. I’m really glad that I started out on the smaller weavings though because it allowed me to experiment and not feel bad if something didn’t turn out exactly the way I had hoped it would.

Wool Wall Weaving

Selecting colors is the most difficult part for me. Naturally, I lean towards neutrals. So I decided to embrace my neutral tenancies for this first large weaving, choosing cream and greyish/brown. One thing I love about weaving is that it gives me a chance to use wool that is maybe a bit too scratchy for apparel, so most of what I use is that type of wool. I also stumbled upon some beautiful brown roving while I was at an out of town yarn shop, so I included some of that in my weaving for a pop of texture.

Wool Wall Weaving

I am actually surprised at how much I am loving weaving. But, I do get obsessed with things that I instantly love (sewing, knitting, gardening), so I shouldn’t be surprised. Regardless, I’m finding myself thinking about weaving when I’m not doing it, and coming up with ways that I can sneak a little weaving in here and there between other projects.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about learning to weave and venturing in to other fiber arts that I wouldn’t have even dreamed about a year or so ago. I recently acquired an Inkle loom from my Mom who had an extra one on hand and I’m excited to give it a try. I would be grateful for any advice from those who have “inkled” – I discovered there is a fiber arts shop not too far from me (but out of town), so I’m going to venture there in the next few weeks and hope that they have a class. I’m also considering taking a yarn spinning class sometime in the next year thanks to a few instagram accounts that I follow – and it also turns out the agricultural college about an hour outside of town offers spinning courses. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be spinning my own yarn. Now just imagine if I had my own sheep!

What I’m Making: Wee Weaving

Recently I decided that I wanted to take a weaving course at my local yarn shop. This is a bit of an unusual thing for me to do because I am a bit of a recluse. But when I saw the course, I immediately signed up so I wouldn’t have a chance to think about it and back out (I guess I know myself pretty well). I am a pretty introverted and awkward person. There is nothing wrong with this and I kind of like it this way, but I have been attempting to push myself out of the box a little and try new things. This class was perfect for this – it was something I was excited about and something that didn’t seem too difficult to make (and something that wasn’t a huge time commitment).

The best thing? All of the supplies were provided and you just showed up.

The course was for two hours on two Saturday afternoons. The first class was an introduction to the basics and getting our weavings started – the instructor went over the technical terms which I didn’t understand completely until I re-read them a hundred times (that’s just me, it was nothing to do with the instructor, it takes awhile for things like terminology to sink in to this brain), then showed us the basics of weaving, and encouraged us to do whatever we wanted. There was no pattern, which is a good thing in my mind, so we were forced to be creative with our designs (each weaving was truly one-of-a-kind). Then we were sent on our way to keep working on our weavings throughout the week until the next weekend when we would finish them (tucking in the loose ends, mounting them on a little stick, admiring each other’s creations).

Wool Wall Weaving

I knew about 5 minutes in to weaving that I loved it. I like the idea of jumping in to a project without any plan whatsoever. And I mostly like how relaxing it was. I’m pretty sure that the walls in my home will soon be full of woven wall hangings.

Wool Wall Weaving

I took this up as a hobby – I don’t really have any intention of selling them, which I think is a good thing. I find that I can get frustrated with sewing sometimes because I want to make things for myself, but I need to prioritize sewing for my Etsy shop. So I think weaving is going to be just for me. Plus, I love a hobby that I can do sitting in front of the tube watching some British drama. I’ve already purchased my own loom and I’ve come up with a million ideas for my next pieces!

If you live in the Calgary area, Stash Lounge is the place to go! It is my favorite local yarn shop and based on my one experience, I would highly recommend taking a class there (I’m planning to sign up for a yarn dying class as soon as it comes up!).