12 March 2011

Yarn Kabobs (a variegated yarn dyeing strategy)

I had a bunch of spun singles that I think I’d like to weave into something … probably a scarf or something similar. They were spun over the last several years, and making something out of my ‘history’ of spinning is appealing to me just now.

However, they were all plain white wool – and not all quite the same white, nor the same kind of wool, so clearly some added colour was called for. I got out the crock pot and thought about how to make something ‘interesting’ … and once again, my mind turned to the drill and metal knitting needles. I know, I’m odd.

I’d read about people putting a skein, ball or cake of yarn into the dye pot in order to get variegated yarn – the outside dyes darker colours, and it gradually gets lighter toward the inside, as the dye doesn’t seep through all the way. So … what if I wound my singles onto knitting needles, like I do when I’m weaving, and then put the whole thing in the crock pot?

Well, turns out it works. First, you make yarn kabobs by winding the singles onto metal knitting needles. Then you stick those in the crock pot, flipping end for end every so often to keep as much as possible submerged:

(Yes, that’s a dye lid – there wasn’t much left of the red, so I just plunked the whole thing in, lid, jar and all.

After it’s done cooking, you set the kabobs out to dry partway:

Then you skein the yarn (at which point you discover that squishing the wet yarn on the needles is a bad idea, and tying the tail end somewhere you can find it later would be a really good idea):

If you want long colour runs, fill the whole needle end to end as you wind on – like a sewing machine bobbin fills up, top to bottom then back again. If you want shorter colour runs, fill it more like a spinning wheel bobbin: one section then the next then the next.

Now I just have to figure out what to use for warp so that I can get a balanced, open weave. Something nice and fine … crochet cotton, perhaps. That’s the next adventure!

1 comment:

  1. thank you for the info on dyeing singles. I'm new to spinning and didn't know if this could be done.


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