Category Archives: Tutorials

Gradient Dyeing – Take 2

First, I’d like to add a few notes about the first tutorial on dyeing.  I made a few mistakes on that blank and hope that by writing here what I did wrong, it’ll save you from doing the same.
– If you knit your blank using two strands of yarn from the same end, plan which color will go where.  I wanted the skein I dyed to start and end with the darker color, to achieve that I’d have to paint the darker color at the beginning of the blank (I did the opposite).
– make sure you use really big needles.  When I unraveled my blank there were white spots where the dye didn’t reach.  Since the colors were a little pale for my taste anyway, I over dyed the whole skein (just wind up the yarn in one hank and place it inside a container with the dye bath).

Now, the second tutorial.

For this tutorial I’ll use as an example the approximate amount necessary to knit Maria (300g).  You’ll wind the yarn into 5 mini-hanks of 60g each (if the yarn you’re using is a different weight, divide by another number bigger than 4).  You don’t have to be precise and can, if you wish, eyeball the amount you want for each mini-hank.
If you have a scale, weight the total amount of yarn you’ll use and divide the number you find by a number bigger than 4 (5 in our case).  Wind your yarn around the Niddy Noddy until the amount not yet wound is Xg lighter than the original weight (X being the number you got after doing the division – In my example, I’ll wind until I have 240g (300 – 60).
Do NOT break the yarn.  Using spare yarn or twine, tie the mini-hank loosely in 4 spots.
I push the first mini-hank towards the center of the Niddy Noddy and wind up another mini-hank.  Keep on doing it until the yarn is all wound up.

Take all the mini-hanks out of the Niddy Noddy, being careful to keep them in order and soak them in water.  While the yarn soaks, prepare a very strong, concentrated dye bath in your crock pot.
Place all your mini-hanks inside a bowl by the crock pot, take the first mini-hank and put it in the crock pot.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  When the time is up, place the next mini-hank and set the timer for another ten minutes.  Keep on doing that until all the mini-skeins are in the crock pot.  Keep the yarn under heat until the dye bath is exhausted.

There are other ways to achieve a similar result.  This blogger goes about this method the other way around (i.e. starts out with all the mini-hanks and takes one out every ten minutes).

You can also put the mini-hanks inside jar (with different colors/shades in each one) and microwave it.  I personally don’t like this method so much as the color changes aren’t as subtle as I’d like them to be.

A few last notes:
– Both superwash yarns and silk take dye really fast – to the point that some areas of the yarn have no dye left to be bound to.  If you’re going to use one of those yarns, it’s better to follow the process from the link I posted.
– If, after your yarn is dry, you find that it’s too light, you can repeat the process or over dye all the mini-hanks at the same time (unless you make a very strong dye bath this time around, you’ll still get a nice gradation of color in your yarn).

Gradient Dyeing – take 1

There are a few ways of dyeing a yarn so it has gradient colors.  I can think of three such methods and on the next few weeks will be posting each one of them here.  All of the methods I came across/developed are somewhat labor intensive, but well worth the effort.

This is the first one and you’ll need:
– yarn that has a high content of animal fiber in it,
– acid dyes (Kool Aid or food coloring works too)
– vinegar or citric acid (depending on the dye you choose)
– plastic film
– foam brush
– a source of heat (microwave)

Start by knitting a rectangle using large needles (goes faster this way).  On my sample I used the yarn held doubled.  The stitch used and how you knit (by hand or by machine) doesn’t matter.  You don’t need to bind off either:

For this one I’ve used Country Classic Wool Dyes (which I like very much for its color intensity and the fact that you don’t need to add any acid) in the colors Forrest Green, Spruce Green and Raven:

Those dyes (which come in powder form) were then dissolved in water – it’s a good idea to first soak your blank and then dissolve the dyes.  On a side note, if you have never dyed before, I recommend you start out doing a weak solution (you can always add more dye, or over dye the yarn later).  It’s a good idea to use hot water, specially if you’re using food coloring in gel form:

Now, soak your blank.  If you’re using acid dyes that require you to add some acid, add some vinegar (1/4 cup is more than enough) to the water (or dilute a teaspoon of citric acid in the soaking water):

Once your blank is thoroughly wet, squeeze the excess water out – it shouldn’t drip.  Take a long piece of plastic film out and arrange your blank on it.  I’ve folded mine in half lengthwise so it would fit, you can also fold it width-wise (remember that if you do that, you’ll have more stripes of the colors):

It’s painting time!  Soak your foam brush in the first dye (I usually go from light to dark, this way I don’t have to wash the brush after applying each dye).  You’re going to pat the brush on the blank (DO NOT rub it or you might felt your yarn):

I painted stripes, without letting the different colors meet at first.  Don’t worry about the reverse side of the blank, or if there are some spots that are lighter (you’re going to go over these again):

Next step is to get the different colors to meet and “mingle”.  Decide if you want some colors to have a larger stripe than the others and keep on painting towards one another.  I painted the spruce color first, to the place where I wanted it to stop, then with the forest green, I painted over a tiny area of what was already painted spruce green (same with the black):

Check for spots with no color and go over those again.  Now turn the blank to the other side.  There shouldn’t be much (if any) excess dye dripping – yet:

You’re going to repeat what you did on the first side, painting one color after the other.  There should be enough of dye leaking to this side that you’ll be able to see where to stop and change colors.  At this point, I added more dye to the solutions I had and went over the areas where the colors met:

Fold one end of the plastic film over the blank and roll it up like a burrito.  At this point there will be enough excess liquid and it will spill a bit.  Unless you want “interesting” looking nails, use plastic gloves.  If some of the dye spills on things you don’t want dyed, wipe it off with a cloth soaked in a solution of water and baking soda:

Put your roll inside a microwave safe container and nuke it for two minutes:

Take your yarny burrito out, let it cool for a while and when it’s cool enough for you to handle, unwrap it and roll it up again from the other end.  Nuke it again for another 2 minutes.  Note, it’d be wise to be using the gloves still, as the inner area of your roll won’t be set yet:

If the dyes were set correctly (and there isn’t excess dye), when you take the yarn out of the microwave for the second time, any excess liquid should be clear (or nearly clear).  Let it cool down, unwrap and rinse it.

A few important notes:
– Do not wrap the plastic too tight around your blank, nor seal the ends or your yarn burrito might explode in the microwave,
– In case the liquid isn’t clear (or nearly clear) after the second time in the microwave, you can keep on repeating the procedure, but make sure the blank is still wet.  Do not put dry yarn in the microwave!
– If you don’t have /don’t want to use a microwave, you can steam the roll.  The procedure is the same, but it will take longer.
– In my experience, blues and green dyes only get set properly at lower temperatures.
– Finally, if the colors aren’t as dark as you wanted them to be, you can over dye the blank by either repeating the process above or over dyeing using the lighter color – just toss the blank in the crock pot with a stronger solution of your lighter color (or in a container in the microwave).

Too messy for your taste?  The next tutorial will be a little less so.


The stitch pattern for Dorothy has an interesting (and sometimes annoying) feature.  The stitch pattern I used is mostly patterned on the right side, but every 12 rows there are decreases on the wrong side.   This feature makes for a slow going, as it’s hard to get the rhythm of the pattern.  I found myself forgetting about those purled decreases more often than not.

Here’s a solution I came up with to avoid tinking back every time I forgot the darn decreases.  You’re happily knitting along, beginning to think you’re memorizing the pattern, get to the next right side row aaaaaaaaaaaand…the stitch count is off.  You count, recount, freak out (you know the drill), think about PMing me, posting it to the group and then you check the charts and realize you forgot the decreases on the previous row.  Shoot!

The mistake can be seen inside the red circles on the image above.  What to do?  The first reaction is to tink back, redo the last wrong side row (paying attention this time) and move on.  That is all fine and dandy when you’re on the first or second repeat, but what happens when you’re already 10 repeats into the pattern and you had to tink back 6 of those???  It happened to me and I got tired of tinking so I came up with a patch.
     Work all the way to the place where the decrease should be.  Slip the first st that should have been knit together paying attention to how it lays on the needle (so it isn’t twisted) to the right hand needle.

     Now, stick the needle on the stitch below the next stitch (shown by the red arrow):

and slip that stitch to the right hand needles.  Don’t worry about the loop – it will go away.

Put both stitches back on the left hand needle:

Now slip the second stitch over the first one and continue knitting until you reach the next place where you forgot the decrease.

This will create a right leaning decrease. I’ll write another post showing how to do a left leaning decrease because blogger is giving me a very hard time with image position.