Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How To - Immersion Dyeing (Part Two - Multiple Colours, Twisted Skein)

Full disclosure - this is the first time I have ever done this method, but it definitely won't be my last! I was super happy with how this turned out, and am looking forward to trying it more often.

Since I had not done this before, I asked a Ravelry friend (Distracted Knits) how she does it. She always has beautiful yarns, and she was able to confirm the method she uses.  I have added her shop to the links on the right....be sure to check her stuff out!

If you are going to try this method, one of the things you need to be aware of is the impact of mixing colours. The colours are going to mix together, so you want to make sure you are picking colours that play nicely.  For example, blue and orange look awesome together, as separate colours, but when they mix, you get brown. If you are not looking for brown, you don't want to mix these two.

What you need/What I used

  1. 100g fingering weight yarn (I used Bare Opal sock yarn)
  2. Dye - I used Wilton Color Right for the pink and a combination of two different Kool Aid flavours for the grey
  3. Acid - For the colour that was done with the WCR, I used citric acid. For the colour that was made up of the Kool Aid, I didn't need to add any. For the citric acid, I used my standard liquid mix of 1 tbps of citric acid powder to 1 cup of water, then used that liquid)
  4. Non-iodized salt
  5. A large pot - In this case, my oval pot worked very well, since it let me lay the twisted skein flat in the dye
  6. A stove
  7. Mild dish soap or baby shampoo
  8. Tongs
  9. Towel
Step 1 - Soak and twist your yarn.
For this one,  I soaked the yarn as the flat skein and then twisted it. I think for the next one, I will twist it up first. It is a bit of a pain in the butt to twist the wet skein.  The skein was soaked in plain water.
Soaking my yarn in plain water

I soaked my yarn in the dye pot, so I had to remove it to prepare the dye stock. I squeezed out most of the water and twisted it at this time. I tried not to twist it too tight, because I wanted the colour to penetrate the skein.
The twisted skein... a bit of a pain when it is wet. Wrap it loosely

Step 2 - Prepare the dye stock 
For the pink, I used 6 drops of WCR pink. I put enough water in the pot to cover about half to 3/4 of the twisted skein, then added the pink. I also added 1/4 tsp to very hot tap water and stirred until completely dissolved, then added that to the dye stock as well. 

Step 3 - Dye the first colour
I added the skein to the dye stock and gradually brought up to temperature.  I kept it there for 10 minutes, added 1 tablespoon of my citric acid mix.  Left another 5 minutes and added another tablespoon of the citric acid. I let the yarn sit in the dye stock for another 10 minutes, until the dye stock was almost clear.
Pretty in pink
Step 3.5 - Prepare the second dye stock.
I called this one 3.5 because I did this while I was doing step 3.  For my second colour, I wanted a grey, and it is hard to get with food colouring. Most times you get a green or blue tinge. But there is a neat combination of Kool Aid that works. 
6 Pink Lemonade, 2 Great Bluedini
I mixed the powder in a cup, added 1/4 tsp of salt and some very hot tap water, and mixed well. 
My grey dye stock

I had to mix it for a few minutes to make sure it was really well mixed. I could see particles of blue stuck to the side of the glass, and the last time I used this grey, I did not mix well, and wound up with blue spots. So by mixing very closely, I was able to make sure that there was no colour particles sticking to the side of the glass

Step 4 - Cool and rinse the first colour
I used the tongs to move the yarn out of the pot so it would cool faster.  And so I could see how it looked. 
After the pink, before rinsing
One thing I wanted to show was the effects of acid on red #3.  The WCR pink has red #3, and even when I add the acid slowly, I find the colour likes do this funky thing to my pot, that has also dyed my fingers (see my post on gradient dyeing). It took multiple washes to completely get rid of it. Make sure you take the time to ensure that all of it is gone, otherwise, pink pasta for supper!
Pink residue - took 3 washes to get it all out of the pot.
I put the yarn in the sink and ran warm water over it to slowly cool it down. You can just leave it to let it cool naturally, but I was doing this on my lunch break and wanted to get to the second colour. I started to slowly cool it down until it was cool enough for me to handle (it was still pretty warm)
I accidentally untwisted the skein when I was rinsing it, so I had to re-twist it. I was originally going to just flip the skein over and dye the undyed section (like my skillet cake dyeing post), but it didn't work out that way, and I am pretty happy about that. 
Re-twisted, ready for the second colour
Step 5 - Dye the second colour
I added the grey dyestock to the pot, and then added about the same amount of water as I did for the pink (okay, maybe a little more).  I found the side of the skein that has the most bare yarn showing, and put that side down in the dye.
In the grey
I was a little concerned at how the grey and the pink would react, and was pleasantly surprised that the grey and pink worked together to provide me with a very pretty purple. Probably because the grey was made up of pink and blue Kool Aid.

I find with some of the Kool Aid flavours, it can be hard to tell when the dye stock is "clear" because it seems to stay cloudy. So I let it go for about 20 minutes total, then turned the heat off and let it sit for a little bit.  
After the grey has set - see the pretty purple?
Step 6 - Cool, wash, rinse and dry
At this point, I had not seen the bottom of the skein, only what you can see here in the pot.  So when I took it out and put it on the plate to cool, I was very happy at the bottom of the skien and the depth of colour I had. 
The top, that I could see in the pot
The bottom of the skein! Look at the glorious darkness of some of the colour!
I untwisted the skein to wash, and was even happier to see all the colours running through the skein
In the sink, ready for a bath
As usual, I washed in baby shampoo, rinsed well and prepared to wring it dry in my dyeing towel
Before being dried
The final skein!
I am super happy with this yarn. I have white, light pink, dark pink, light purple, dark purple, light grey and dark grey. 

I will try this again where I just flip the skein and do not re-twist it.


  1. This is beautiful! I wish we had more KA around here. It really is disappearing from the stores.

  2. I love how skeining a yarn after it's been dyed makes it look so cool!

  3. Thank you! I followed your tutorial but I used McCormick food coloring in Neon Pink and Wilton's Violet. This is the skein I made: my dyed skein