Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a yarn dyeing workshop that had been organised by The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. The workshop was taught by Yvonne from the Dublin Dye Company and took place in the upstairs studio at the Constant Knitter. Now, I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but when I saw the workshop advertised I just couldn’t resist – colour and texture are such large parts of why I knit.
And I wasn’t disappointed! Yvonne started the workshop by explaining how the dyeing process works. We were using acid dyes. The dyes themselves are activated by using an acid (citric acid or vinegar), water and heat which allows the dye to stick to the fibre.We learned about create resists, by tying the hank of yarn in a knot or twisting it so that the dye doesn’t cover all of the yarn evenly.
And then we were on to the actual dyeing process. This felt quite daunting at first, to be handed a skein of creamy yarn, a bowl with some water and dyes and told to give it a go ourselves. I don’t think I’m alone in say I felt a bit overwhelmed, but I chose some colours I like and just got stuck in. We got to dye two skeins of yarn, a sock yarn (75% merino, 25% nylon) and a Merino DK, which I have to say was surprisingly generous given that the workshop only cost €40.
There were two main techniques we tried – kettle dying and hand paining. I tried kettle dying for both of my skeins as I prefer a semi-solid yarn to highly variegated ones. The sock yarn I dyed a shocking pink but added purple to get some variations in the tone. The DK weight I dyed a turquoise colour, adding first yellow, then blue and then black to different parts of the yarn to create a semi-solid colour. My skeins are currently drying in my bathroom so I’ll go into more detail, with photos, in another blog post. We were only using a relatively limited palette of bold colours so the variations that we all came up with were beautiful.
Some of the others in the group tried hand paining their yarn, again with gorgeous results. I really hope the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers run this workshop again. It was great value and great fun and there’s so much to learn when it comes to dying, I feel like we only scratched the surface. I’ll post photos of my finished yarns later in the week.
Have you ever dyed yarn at home? Do you have any tips for me?