How to make tie-dyed yarn

May 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Posted in pattern | Leave a comment
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This is one of my new favorite techniques for dyeing yarn.  It takes a few steps, but it’s fun, so I thought I would share my process with you so you can do it too!

First, find an ugly sweater or other garment that’s suitable for unraveling.  Pay attention to the fiber content as well as any other factors you usually use when selecting sweater for destruction (such as thickness of yarn, type of seams, etc.)  I chose a hideous and unflattering tan sweater vest.  I like to unravel things that deserve to be unraveled!

Second, obtain and prepare dye for the type of fiber you’re using.  My example here is a cotton blend, and I used a powdered dye that was labeled for use on a range of fibers.

Tie and dye your garment according to the instructions on the dye package.  With this sweater vest I did two dyeings–first olive green, then turquoise.

Once your garment is rinsed and dried and everything from the dye, you can unravel it!  Unraveling can be tedious, but I actually enjoy it, especially when I’m feeling upset–then I can take my aggressions out in the act of sweater destruction.

Here are a few balls of yarn from various sweaters I’ve dyed and unraveled:

Finally, make your yarn into a lovely skein!  If the wrinkly texture of unraveled yarn bothers you, you can straighten it out by wetting the skein and hanging it to dry with a weight at the bottom to stretch it.

I don’t mind mine wrinkled!

The best thing about this dye technique is that you can create unpredictable variegation in your colors.  With the sweater vest in my pictures I did horizontal stripes, which will work out into wide bands of color with gradual transitions.  If you tie circles or spirals or vertical stripes, then you’ll get smaller patches of color, but the repetitions and pooling will not be anywhere near as regular as those you’d get with a commercial skein of variegated yarn.


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