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A homemade interpretation of kettle hand dyeing!

I’m thinking that hand dyeing yarn is a delightful thing to do! I’m not an expert at it but I keep practicing!! I like the hand dyed yarns with the kettle dye technique, so I searched the internet to understand more about the process. But there is so much information available that I decided to take a chance and do my interpretation of what I read about the technique and a tutorial on dyeing on KnitPicks website.


The preparation is the same as described in the previous post, the yarn must be wound into a skein and stay for long soaking in water mixed with vinegar. It is not an exact measure so I put up 3 to 4 tablespoons of vinegar for every 1.5 lt of water. The glass container I used for the soaking has a capacity of 2 liters of water (approximately 5 tablespoons). If the smell of vinegar bothers you, relax because it disappears when the yarn dries and as we handle it.

I have had more success in dyeing when the yarn is really soaked. With this dye, I kept the yarn soaked for 24 hours because I got distracted doing other things at the time! Just make sure that the yarn is uniformly wet until there are no more air bubbles. The yarn used was the Shadow Bare Lace (100% merino wool – 880y / 804m) of KnitPicks, that is suitable for dyeing.

The pigment was Jacquard Acid Dye for silk, wool, nylon, feathers or any other fiber protein-based, which is a sideshow for the quality and variety of beautiful colors. OurVivacor from Guarany is the brazilian equivalent, also with excellent quality. You will also need a glass with a capacity to accommodate all the yarn, a large pot, a wooden spoon with a long handle (or similar tool that can be used as a support bar), polyester film suitable for cooking (here in Brazil, the package says “polyester film for BBQ”), a glass bowl that is microwavable, a dark towel (that will not be a problem if you happen to spot ink) and gloves (if you want to avoid pigment staining in your hands).

Because I wanted that effect where the yarn appears to have different intensities of the same color with a slight intervention of another color, I chose the Burnt Orange andSalmon tones. So if you want the same effect, choose two closer shades, one darker than the other.

If I was using the dye Vivacor, I could have chosen the Blue and the Blue Natier, for example!

In this kind of dying we have to add hot water throughout the process, so have a kettle full of water around, whether in fire or electrical outlet.

Prepare a water bath with a large enough pot to cover at least half of the glass bottle where you will place the yarn and the mix of water and pigment, as in the photo.

Place the yarn on the colander just to run-off the water excess. Then add 1 liter of hot water in the glass container and 1 / 2 tablespoon (approx 3gr) of the darker pigment (here was the Burnt Orange) and stir up until the mix being homogeneous. Prepare the pan with a hot water bath.

Lift the skein upright and start rolling it around the handle of wooden spoon, like a spaghett, until about half length of the whole skein. Place the wooden spoon with the wrapped yarn diagonally across the top of the glass so that the part of the yarn that hangs from it sits in the mixture of hot water and pigment. Then, gently place the glass container with the wooden spoon into the pot prepared with hot water. Leave it on the stove for about 5 minutes.

Then add 400ml (2 cups) of hot water from the kettle and unroll half the wrapped skein that is the wooden spoon (about 1 / 4 the length of the skein down) and leave for more 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the same cup you are using, fill with hot water from the kettle and add 1 / 3 tsp (approx 2gr) of the lighter pigment (here was the Salmon) and stir until the mix being homogeneous.

After the preceding 5 minutes, release all the yarn within the glass bottle, using the wooden spoon to accommodate (as shown in the next picture). Then add the mixture from the cup.

Make sure that the whole yarn is covered by pigmented water and leave for another 5 minutes or until the last part of the yarn placed in the bottle is dyed with the lightest color.

Take this time to put a piece of the polyester paper with about one meter above the glass bowl. Then, carefully and with the same wooden spoon, take the yarn out of the glass container and place it on the paper and onto the bowl.

Take a bit of warm water from the kettle (1 / 2 cup or 100ml) and a tablespoon of vinegar, and pour on the yarn, accommodating with the wooden spoon. Fold the edges of the sheet as wrapping the whole skein. Then put the bowl with the yarn and microwave it for 1 minute and pausing for another 1 minute for 5 times. And voilà!

Let cool a little and remove the skein off the bowl and let it drain on the colander placed in a sink. Gently squeeze out the water excess. When you feel that is enough, put the skein to dry. If you are drying indoors, place the skein stretched over the dark towel on a horizontal surface.

When no longer dripping, you can remove the towel and place the skein folded in half on a hanger or something similar.You’ll probably notice irregular and odd changes of tones at the yarn. After being dried and winded the yarn looked like this: (and I loved it!)

Peace Knit and Love, Paula.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nina,
    Amei. Ficou lindo demais. Quero fazer isso contigo, um dia 😉

    July 16, 2011
  2. Greeeeeeeeat Blog Love the Infomation you have provided me .

    August 4, 2011

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