As we head toward the summer, I was wanting to dye up something in a fun mix of colors. I’ve been thinking about crocheting again and had the idea to dye up some yarn with a mix of colors, some softer and some with brighter pops of color throughout. That is how the watercolor confetti yarn was born! A variety of cheerful colors, dyed in short sections perfect for single crochet stitches. I am thinking about making a summery crochet tank top with this yarn and these colors will be perfect!
Two skeins EGRET 100% fine organic merino wool
Dharma Trading Co. Acid Dyes in Brilliant Yellow, Peach Blush, Berry Crush, Bright Aqua, True Turquoise, and Electric Violet
Six cups for mixing
Citric acid powder
Six plastic pipettes
Setup for steam setting yarn (link to steam setting blog post)
Add a dash of citric acid to the large bowl and fill the bowl two thirds of the way full with cool water. Stir to dissolve the citric acid. Add your two skeins of EGRET to the bowl and allow to presoak until the yarn is fully saturated. This will take about an hour. Once the yarn has been fully saturated, squeeze out all the excess water really thoroughly. The yarn should be damp to the touch but not dripping.
While your yarn is presoaking, layout several lengths of plastic wrap on your work surface. If you do not have a dedicated dyeing table like I do, make sure you protect the table with a plastic tablecloth or newsprint before laying down the plastic wrap. This should take 3-4 lengths of plastic wrap that are about two and a half feet long. We will be placing our presoaked yarn on top of the plastic wrap for dyeing and then rolling it up in the wrap to heat set it afterward so you want enough plastic wrap to fully wrap up the dyed yarn.
In six separate cups mix one-eighth teaspoon (1/8 tsp) of each dye color with one-eighth teaspoon (1/8 tsp) of citric acid powder and 3-4 ounces of water. The colors used here are Dharma Trading Co. Acid Dyes in Brilliant Yellow, Peach Blush, Berry Crush, Bright Aqua, True Turquoise, and Electric Violet.
When working with powdered dyes, make sure to wear gloves and a respirator and that any tools used for dyeing are only used for dyeing as they are no longer food safe.
Place an eye dropper with each cup of dye solution.
After you’ve squeezed out all the excess water, lay the yarn down across the plastic wrap surface you prepared earlier. Spread out the yarn so that it lays in one even layer as much as possible.
Starting with Brilliant Yellow, squeeze the pipette to fill it with the dye solution and use it to spread the dye across the skeins of EGRET evenly in small sections. Aim for one to two-inch sections of dyed yarn. Move the skeins around to make sure the underside of the yarn is dyed as well.
Continue dyeing in sections using the pipettes and the premixed dye solution until both skeins are saturated to your liking. I dyed Brilliant Yellow first, followed by Peach Blush with the intention of blending some of the edges of those two colors together for a bit of a watercolor effect. Then I added Berry Crush to the edges of the sections I dyed with the Peach Blush. After that, I filled in the white spaces with Bright Aqua and True Turquoise. Lastly, I filled in any spaces on the edges of the True Turquoise and Berry Crush sections with Electric Violet. I knew the colors were going to spread a little when I heat set them so I wanted to be strategic in what colors I placed next to each other to avoid a muddy mix.
You can leave a lot of white space if you would like or leave no white space at all! Using the pipettes and steam setting the yarn allows you a great deal of control over color placement.
Roll the dyed yarn up in the plastic wrap that it is sitting on top of starting from one end and rolling straight to the other end. If needed, shift the yarn to the center a little so there is a little bit of plastic wrap on each side so you can tuck the plastic wrap all the way around the yarn. The finished bundle should have all of the yarn fully wrapped in plastic.
Steam set your yarn.
Once your yarn has set and fully cooled, rinse it thoroughly under cool running water until the water runs clear. Squeeze out the excess water and hang it up to dry. Your freshly hand-dyed yarn is ready to use! I was so excited I went ahead and crocheted up a test swatch. This is 20 stitches of single crochet using a 3.5mm hook.
Enjoy your beautiful skeins of Watercolor Confetti yarn and tag us on social media so we can see what you made @knomad_yarn We can’t wait to see what you create!
Please provide more info on how you steam set the yarn?
I usually lay the yarn on foil, then roll and bake. How does the steam enter the yarn if wrapped in plastic or is it just the heat ?
The goal is to create a nice warm environment to heat set the yarn and this method uses steam. We want to add heat because heat is the key third element to ensure the pigment is absorbed and bonded to the yarn (heat + acid + dye = dyed yarn). So to answer your question at the end, the heat is what sets the yarn.
From what you’ve described here, it sounds like you have a great method that works for you to heat set your yarn! There are so many different ways to heat set dyed yarn and this method is just one of them.
I personally like this method when I have really carefully placed dye – like in a speckle or hand painted – and I want to prevent the dye from running or bleeding as much as I can because the plastic wrap helps keep it all in place.
When you say steam the yarn do you mean a double boiler type thing?
Steam setups can vary. The setup I’m describing here uses a steamer rack where the yarn bundle is placed on top of the rack and the bottom of the slow cooker is covered with a layer of water. The rack elevates the yarn out of the water and then the steam generated provides the heat to set dye in the yarn. This setup is similar to steaming broccoli with a steamer basket – so it isn’t a proper double boiler because the air and steam flows throughout the slots in the steamer rack whereas a double boiler would keep it separate. Hope that helps!