Badventures in Dyeing

As with many other things, there is a Correct way to dye yarn, and then there’s chucking some yarn in a bucket with a color to see what comes out.

It’s common among knitters to have many UFOs–UnFinished Objects–and that dark corner where the UFOs pile up is Area 51. I pulled out my Area 51 bucket and found a shawl and a sweater, both in wool, both showing a bit of bug damage (I think my area is more prone to carpet beetles than moths; I haven’t actually seen anything I’d call a wool-chewing bug, but sometimes holes happen).

Yarn, half-knit

After I unravelled the shawl and a sweater, I had two large hanks of yarn, one off-white and one an oatmeal color. It wasn’t exactly free yarn, since I’d paid for it, but it’s yarn I didn’t expect to use again. Amortized yarn. Freed yarn. And somewhere deep in the back of my closet I had three boxes of Easter egg dye, of indeterminate age.

I also had adequate supervision.

If you dye things correctly, you know how hot the water should be, how much vinegar to use–that’s only for using household dyes like Kool-Aid and Wilton colors, though, real official acid dyes are a whole other level of complexity. I used hot tap water with an undetermined quantity of vinegar, and chucked in the egg dye tablets.


The idea is that you let the yarn soak in the dye until the water is clear, so you know all the dye has gone into the yarn.


The white yarn got put into a pot with the red, yellow, and orange tabs, and the oatmeal yarn got put into a pot with the blues and greens.


I covered the pots with plastic wrap and put them outside where it’s warm. The dye had sunk to the bottom of the pots so I gave them a bit of a stir…I’m not entirely sure how this is going to turn out.

Tennessee orange is a distinct possibility.

My yarn is bagged up, now, to avoid further bug damage or at least keep it contained.

I have a surfeit of yarn.

The skein of yarn that had been in the Area 51 bin didn’t show any damage, but it got a prophylactic baking just in case.

…it’s what’s for dinner!

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3 Responses to Badventures in Dyeing

  1. Laurie says:

    You can bake yarn and not have it burst into flame?! I hope Edward was adequately supervising that, too.
    Also, I love the term “badventures”. I am going to use it for my next baking fail post. (Though I have a successful baking post to do next.) Don’t forget to show us how the dyeing turned out!

    • pegoftilling says:

      The yarn goes in at a fairly low temp–I set it to 300F for 20 minutes, then let it cool in the oven, but I didn’t look up instructions first. I’ve also heard you can wrap the yarn in a black plastic bag and set it in the sun in a parked car. I’d heard freezing works to kill bugs, but then I heard that might just encourage critters who go dormant in winter.

      Yarn is posted. Looking forward to your baking!

  2. Lauri says:

    This is fascinating! And I love how you are just flying by the seat of your pants! Very brave! Onto the next post!

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