Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

Michelle's Hand-dyed GalaxyMichelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

When I was in Maine in January I spent some time looking at inventory we have at the warehouse.  We had two big boxes of Puffin Belize that I couldn't stop thinking about.  When I got home to Chicago I went down a rabbit hole of overdying yarn.  I started to consider the idea that we could do something really fun and special with this yarn and so I began preparing to turn my little bungalow into a makeshift dyehouse.  

First, and most difficult step was to break the news to my husband.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an obsessive crafter.  I love to throw myself headlong into projects - weaving, oil painting, beading, knitting, etc.  I am also kind of sloppy and don't clean-up after myself.  Add to this, winter in Chicago - excluding any use of our outdoor space and let's just say he was not pleased.  After much explanation he was reluctantly convinced and we now had 50 lbs of yarn and a lot of supplies.

Supplies I purchased...

First thing is dye, obviously.  I used powdered acid dye and citric acid (for fixing color), (acid dye is what we typically use to dye all of our yarn at Quince) from Dharma Trading co., they have a great color selection and are a one-stop shop for all your dyeing needs.  I needed dye pans for both setting the citric acid and the dye bath.  I purchased these, they were perfect because I could fit 2 pans at a time on my stove and having 6 allowed me to dye 30 skeins per day - which was the max I had room to dry.  I also purchased mixing spoons, measuring spoons, dust masks, and rubber gloves, drying rack and Twig & Horn Wool Soap.  Full disclosure, I did not use the gloves or mask after the first batch - my hands are still kind of purple.

I was now ready to get started.  Here is my step by step process:

1. Soak skeins in citric acid for 10 minutes.  It is important to fully submerge the skeins.  I soaked 500 grams per pan and used 1 TBSP per 100 grams, (or 5 TBSP).  I used the aluminum dye pans.

Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

2. Move pans to stovetop, set burners on med-low (I set to 3).  Now add the dye. I wanted variegation so sprinkled the dye across the yarn and then using the spoon gently mixed it into the water/yarn.  Remember you can add more dye, but you can't take it away, so start with a small amount and increase until you get to the color you want.  If you want a solid color I recommend removing the yarn from the pan, adding the dye to the remaining water, mixing thorougly and adding the yarn back, mixing thoroughly.

Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

3. Let simmer for 30 minutes.  Water should be almost completely clear.  If it's not, add a bit more citric acid and simmer another 15 minutes.

Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

4. Move to hot plate to cool completely (you can leave overnight).

Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

5. Apply small amount of wool care and rinse.  Water should be virtually clear.  If it's not, either your dye did not fix or you added too much dye.  I did not have either of these problems.  Rinse your yarn until the water runs clear.  Wring out each skein and hang them to dry on the drying rack.  I put the drying rack in the bathtub to catch any drips, if it were summer I would have dried outside.  The drying takes the longest, about 2 days - let dry completely and then you can twist your skeins or wind them and cast on!

Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

Michelle's Hand-dyed Galaxy

A few additional notes:

This was not my first time working with dyes, so I was pretty comfortable with the above steps.  You might want to practice on some yarn that is not too precious - use something that is the same fiber type though and I recommend natural fibers.  If you want to dye Quince yarns I recommend choosing any of our undyed options - you can choose colors, but keep in mind that whatever color you overdye with will mix with the base color - so you need to have a sense for what color you will end up with.

You likely won't get the outcome you wanted on your first batch.  Plan for the first batch to be a test batch where you get your dye ratios and such right - I suggest dyeing one skein at a time until you get what you're looking for.

This is messy business - you will get dye on you.  Wear clothes you don't mind getting permanently stained and an apron.  I stained my counters and floor, be prepared for splatters and mess.

Have fun!  Dyeing your own yarn opens up so much opportunity for creativity.  If I can answer any questions email me at michelle@quinceandco.com.  I hope you like Galaxy and try dyeing yarn for yourself.

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