Rainy Afternoon? Dye Yarn!

Several weeks ago, Elizabeth sent the girls some undyed yarn and Easter colors. She posted instructions for dyeing yarn and encouraged each girl to express herself with her own hank of yarn. They were eager to get after it. I promised that we would do it one rainy afternoon. 

And then the bluebells bloomed and we were outside, rain or not. But late last week, it rained and I was all bluebelled out, so we set about to dye yarn.

My girls had seen a sneak peek of Larkspur's beautiful yarn, so they'd settle for nothing less than using every color in the packet. Since I didn't happen to have pipettes on hand, I figured we'd give yarn painting a try. (I also brought out a turkey baster. It was clearly obvious it wouldn't give us detail but it kept Sarah entertained the whole time.)

I determined from the get-go that I would help one girl at a time. Good call. They required careful supervision.

The yarn was tied in several places, using a figure-eight style tie. We left it tied. Critical to minimize tangles.


First we soaked the yarn in 1 cup of warm water and and 1/4 cup of white vinegar. The girls eagerly squished the yarn and turned it over, careful to be sure every strand was wet.


We mixed our dye in our watercolor jars. We added one tablet of Easter egg dye and 1 tablespoon vinegar. And let it fizz. Fun. We talked a little about the chemistry of it all.

[Just an aside, but I dislike both math and chemistry. I'm beginning to suspect that Elizabeth is on a mission--via yarn--to convert me to someone who embraces math and chemistry. Between dyeing yarn and doing the math on  a Baby Surprise Jacket, I'm seriously using a part of my brain I've tried to avoid. Embracing math and chemistry would truly be a miracle.]


Then we filled the cups with water--about a half  cup's worth. We spread the table with a big green garbage bag and set our cups in the middle. Then, we circled the dye with the yarn. And we used our watercolor paintbrushes.


We talked about a pattern and everyone understood that we were going to move around the yarn in a rainbow order. Katie and I worked on hers first. I got her started and showed her how to paint the yarn on top and make sure she was painting the layers in the middle and then to carefully flip it and get the underside. She took off on her own and Karoline watched. There was blessed silence as she worked--everyone concentrating and creating. There was no end to Katie's patience.



Karoline required a great deal more help. First, Mary Beth guided her around. She soon decided that she wanted all the colors Larkspur had, but she was only interested in painting the purple herself. Mary Beth and I thoroughly enjoyed painting it for her helping her finish.

When the yarn was all painted, we carefully transferred it back to the large (15X10) glass casserole dishes. I covered them with plastic wrap and then I microwaved them individually. I microwaved for 3 minutes and then let it sit for 5 minutes, repeating this four or five times. lately, I've suspecting that my microwave isn't really working at full power even when it says it is, so I'd adjust your times accordingly.



Then I left to go to the airport.

When I returned, the yarn was completely cool. We ran a cool bath and swished our yarn around gently for about ten minutes. Then, we pulled it out of the tub, gently squeezed and placed it on the bathroom floor between two thick towels. We instructed Karoline to bourre until she was too tired to bourre any more. So, she gladly danced on the balls of her feet for few minutes. We hung the yarn to dry in the bathroom and waited patiently until the next day.



When there was no dampness left whatsoever, each girl recruited a brother to help her wind her very own ball of yarn.



Mary Beth still has a hank of merino-silk to dye. But now, we're off on a bit of a rabbit trail. I'm pretty sure these  books will work for high school chemistry for both of us, no?

Remember, there's a great bargain to be had on Easter egg dyes this week;-). Go!

For undyed yarn, Knit Picks, has a wide selection at a reasonable price.

{Comments are welcome}