Monday, 9 April 2012

Food colouring... Not just for food.

A while ago I read something about dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid, an American powder drink. I found several tutorials and a fantastic colour chart online as well as a Ravelry group. It appealed to me as it was like cooking... no chemicals, no complicated equipment or materials and it was easy for small quantities...

Perfect for socks!

I acquired some sachets... Thanks to my brother... And looked into getting some undyed wool. And then the shop happened and such frivolities took a back seat... But then the shop acquired some undyed 4ply Blue Faced Leicester...

And so I returned to my research and uncovered some tutorials for dyeing with food colouring. I do have habit of over researching and getting ahead of myself... So this time I limited myself to only a few tutorials and just got on with it.

This turned out to be a good strategy as it seems that these dyeing recipes are a bit of a glug of this and a dribble of that.

So... One Sunday afternoon, armed with supplies bought from the local Spar and a helpful 5 year old, I dyed yarn.  Here is my recipe... Please remember I am not an expert or even experienced, results will vary and could do so considerably. But it's inexpensive, safe (be careful of the hot water!) and good fun.

Materials

50 g of undyed yarn. I used 75% Blue Faced Leciester 25% Nylon (£5.95 for 100g in the shop). It has to be wool... Not sure if it matters which animal. Cotton (and I assume any other plant yarn) will not work. You will obviously need more yarn if you are actually going to knit a pair of adult socks, but I was just experimenting so 50g was fine.


I wound the yarn around the back of a chair and tied the strands together around the hank using a figure of eight. Try and use the same yarn for this tie, so the dye penetrates through it.


2 shades of food colouring. I had Dr Oetkers natural food colouring in red and yellow. I mixed them together to get orange... a suggestion by the 5 year old. The red seemed very strong so I used more yellow than red.



Some vinegar... This is you mordant... Which basically makes the food colouring, your dye, stick to the yarn. To be honest I wasn't actually sure what I was buying as it didn't say VINEGAR! But it was with the malt vinegars...

A big pot (mine was 25cm in diameter), water and something to measure liquids....I don't do a glugs or dribbles.
Method

I followed this video which I found on You Tube. This user has created a range of videos which give different effects like dip dyeing and space dyeing. I chose to do the kettle dyed option (inspired by our great range of kettle dyed Manos Lace).

There are lots and lots and lots of videos and tutorials available online!

simmering

I added 5 cups of water to a large pot and stirred in 5 tablespoons of what I hoped was vinegar. I added the yarn. Taking time to submerge it. I turned on the heat and got the water up to a simmer. Then I turned off the heat and added my food colouring using a pipette which I found in my kitchen drawer.  I suppose you could just dribble it off a teaspoon too.

left to absorb

I dotted it around the yarn, then worried I hadn't added enough, so dropped on some more. In all I think I used about 40ml of food colouring.

I then left it to cool.

Once cold I took it out and rinsed under a lukewarm tap, then hung up to dry.

the results


At first I was surprised by the colour... It was more patchy than I anticipated... More yellow!




I knitted a wee sock to see how it looks... And I think it looks pretty good!

I wonder if the dye bath, i.e the pot, stayed hot enough for long enough for the dye to be absorbed? If I had heated it up again then left it to cool, I wonder if the colour would have been more vibrant?
All these questions may be answered when I dye the other 50g of yarn leftover from my 100g hank!
I'm also eyeing up the shop's white Patons 100% wool 4ply and the white Debbie Bliss 100% Merino laceweight in the shop... And I've got some not natural blue food colouring too... And I still have the Kool Aid sachets... Not that I'm getting ahead of myself...

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