Tag Archives: gradient dyeing

O hai!

Alohura – playing with gradient yarn

I’ve been busy feeling sorry for myself and doing some fiber related stuff.  I’m done with the feeling sorry for myself part; the fiber related stuff is still going on though.

You might have noticed that I posted some yarn to my Etsy shop.  I’m still playing with long gradient colors and decided to put some of the skeins up for sale.  So far I have 3 skeins available in the store.  I’m not done with my experiments yet and have another 2 skeins ready to be photographed and posted.
Right now I have one skein of sock weight yarn:

This skein was the one I did for the first tutorial on gradient dyeing.  Because of the way it was dyed – with the dark part in the center, I can’t come up with something to use this skein (socks would be great, but I don’t feel like knitting socks – well…I do, but want something else for socks).
This skein is perfect if you want to knit socks with the exact same colors at the same places.
I also have two skeins of worsted weight yarn available:
These two were done with a new (to me) technique.  They both go from browns to greens and I wound them up into cakes so that each one would show one of the colors on the outside:
These skeins can be used for a small shawl or a felted project.

On other news, I finished the lace fence :D!  I began “blocking” it, but ran out of staples, so I have to wait for Joel to reload the stapler.  These are the photos I have for now (and the blocking will have to be redone).  I’ll post more when it’s properly in place.

I really like how the fence came out and am planning on doing more of it.  Next time I’ll try to find bigger cones of cord (and hope I won’t need to make many joints – which slowed me down considerably and made me lose some of the interest in knitting this) and will go up several needle sizes.  Again, I like how it turned out, but it can be lacier and still show the stitch pattern.  All and all, it’s a fast knit, albeit it becomes heavy very fast.

The shawl at the beginning of this post is an example of what can be done with gradient dyed yarns.  The colors of the shawl are very similar to the ones on the skeins I have available on Etsy.

Gradient dyeing reviewed

I’ve tried the ball method again, as I thought there was room for improvement.  Well, there is, but even doing extra steps, the results aren’t exactly what I wanted.
– I started out by winding the yarn as loosely as I could – so much so that I had trouble when I made the hank.  The reasons for doing this was that I thought my first few tries were a little too tight, which might had led the yarn to work as a resist on inner layers.  I didn’t notice any difference on how the yarn came out.
– I soaked the yarn in soapy water: soap reduces the surface tension causing the dye particles to spread further.  Again, no noticeable difference on the dyed yarn.
– Instead of mixing all colors into one dye bath and letting differences in dyes/temp/timing do the job, I made several baths and worked from lighter to darker color.  Same results as the first few tries.
– The ball sat in the final dye bath over night – no difference.

Big, huge sigh.  I used a lace weight superwash yarn and noticed that while in a ball the dye wasn’t exhausted (I over dyed the yarn, after winding it into a hank, and it exhausted the bath in a matter of minutes), no matter how long I left it in the bath or how many times I nuked it.  This tells me that only the few first outer layers were exposed to the dye and became saturated;  the other, inner layers, remained untouched by the dye.

Why then, the one I did with cotton worked so well?  I think the answer is two-fold.  First, it was a worsted weight yarn (with which I had better results), second, and probably more important, it is cotton.
Cotton is known to work as a wicker  (if you ever followed an argument on why wool mittens work well and cotton ones don’t, you know what I’m talking about).  Wool, on the other hand, repels water to some extent – meaning it isn’t a good wicker.

This is an interesting technique, but I’ll keep it to use with fibers that work as a wicker (cotton and maybe tencel?).  As far as wool (and dare I say silk?) is concerned, to get a good gradient dye I need a technique were I can get most of the surface of the yarn exposed.

In this photo you can see speckles of different colors (where the yarn didn’t act as a resist to itself).  It’s a nice skein of yarn, but not what I wanted…


As promised, here are the photos of the different dyeing I did for the tutorials I’ve posted over the last few weeks.

  This is the result of the first tutorial I wrote.  If you look closely you might be able to see the kinks left from knitting the blank.  As I stated in the tutorial, this skein was over dyed to get deeper colors.  The yarn is a merino/nylon/stelina, superwash, sock weight.

  Result from the second way to make gradient dyeing.  I’ve done a lot of skeins using this method and it annoys me a bit that the color changes tend to be abrupt.  To fix that (to an extent) I over dyed this skein too.  The yarn is an alpaca/silk mix, lace weight (2/14).

  How the yarn on the third tutorial turned out.  Once again, I’ve over dyed the skein to cover un-dyed specks I’d gotten in the yarn.  The yarn is 100% wool, worsted weight.

  For this yarn, I’ve used the third method with Rit dyes.  This one, unlike the others wasn’t over dyed as the dye solution was way too strong (I used the left over bath to dye a felted bag I’ve knit, and still thew away a lot of dye).  This is the yarn I’ll use to knit Maria with the group.  It’s a cotton/viscose blend, worsted weight.