Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gradient Dyeing done my way

So, I had a swap to do for Woolaholics which included doing some techniques which were new to me. I have always wanted to try gradient dyeing, but didn't have a reason to, so this seemed like a great opportunity to try it.

I tried my best to read some ways to do it on the net, but I'm just no good at following instructions (as my parents will attest to I'm sure), so I decided to just figure it out for myself and do it how it seemed here it is.

Firstly, ball up the wool. To do this, I wound the wool around my forearm for the amount that I wanted each stripe to be. For this project I felt like having changing stripe sizes, so I did it 50 winds some times, 40 in some, 20, 30, just different lengths. If I wanted a particular stripe length, I would measure it. I suppose I would work out a way to do this, from knitting a section, frogging and measuring, to winding the yarn around the needles the number of stitches I wanted it to be, to just winging it (which is likely because I'm not that much of a precise person).

I didn't take a picture of the skein wound up, so here is one of my biggest chook with the skein in the foreground.Then, make up the dyes and test the colour on a tissue well in advance. I learnt this lesson on my first skein (I did 2), as the powdered dyes I have took a while to dissolve fully and as I dyed the colours became just so dark - I quite liked a few of the colours still, but it wasn't what I had planned.

Line up the pots of dyes and plonk each portion of skein in. If you want a semi solid colour, you could leave them a bit balled up (as I did with a couple of sections), otherwise open them up in the dye. This causes a knot risk, so loosely bound skein sections might be the best bet for next time.

Leave the sections in the dye until they have soaked up all the colour you want them to. I got distracted for my second skein (the one in the pic) and they soaked up all the dye and turned out beautifully. I must learn not to rush things, because I usually try to get the process over and done with quickly, and the results aren't nearly as good.

Pull each section out of the dye, squeeze off the excess and pop into an individual sandwich bag. Put all the baggies in the microwave, spaced nicely so they aren't clumping together, and microwave for 2 minutes, rest for 2 minutes, microwave for 2 minutes, rest again for 2 minutes, then microwave one last time for 2 minutes. Let it cool in the microwave for a wee bit, the baggies got all melty and hot for me, which is one reason to try to reduce the bunching in the microwave, because you might end up woth a melted hole, with one colour touching another and have colour runs.

Pull the wool out of the baggies when they are cooled and admire your work for a while.
Skein up your wool and rinse to remove any excess dye. Dry, returning constantly to admire the colours and impatiently check continuously to see if it's dry so you can get on to using it.

Ball it up, really great to do if you have a wool winder, as it displays the colours wonderfully.

And Viola! Done. Gradient dyeing Shannon Style!


  1. I never would've thought of doing it that way. Great idea looks fantastic.

  2. Wow looks great! Clever cookie you are :)

  3. Wow, these look great! The finished product looks like yummy candy!

  4. Shannon, you know what? You make beautiful things. Beautiful babies, beautiful blogs, beautiful friendships, beautful wool. Lucy xx

  5. just found your blog, and these instructions on dyeing is just what i was looking for. thank you!!

  6. I just wanted to say thanks for this tutorial Shannon, I absolutely LOVE the bag you made me out of the gradient yarn, so today when I decided to dye on a whim I came straight here :)

  7. Brilliant info!!!! Love the dye job you did!

  8. Clever idea! Are you still dyeing?