Dyeing Day

I decided that Friday needed to be the Dyeing Day. As soon as everyone was snacked and watered I hustled the girls out to the workroom to get to work. The whole time I was feeling kind of antsy. I’m kind of gun-shy around dyes at this point. I haven’t had any much success, which is why I haven’t really been living up to the ‘natural’ portion of my URL.

I, unfortunately, do not have any links for you guys to follow, I can only give you my recollections and hope they help (The important stuff is in bold). I decided to pull out the stops, not cut any corners this time… So, at 11:00 AM (approximately) I mixed ½ a tablespoon citric acid with enough water to cover the two skeins of yarn. (It’s 1 tablespoon of citric acid to 1 pound of fiber) I let it sit and soak into yarn under its own weight until about 2:00 pm. (So about 3 hours. I also turned the wet yarn a few times so it was soaked well) I don’t have any pictures from this part because they were already taking up some of my mom’s precious counter space and I didn’t want to be in her hair any more than absolutely necessary, that and I had homework.

Then I heated up the water and added some food coloring. (It’s 10/11 drops of food coloring to 1 cup of hot water). I taped two cut-open garbage bags to the table, being sure to overlap them and then laid down saran wrap that was long enough to be wrapped around the skeins of yarn folded double.

Then the fun began. I dressed the girls in two of my old tank tops that I keep especially to use as aprons on small bodies. The girls got to work spooning the dye onto the yarn. 2 & ½ -year-old M favored the greens and yellows (she’s really big on green, as evidenced by the green apron, which  she demanded requested) , while 5-year-old A decided to use more red dye and experiment with combining the colors in some spots (she likes red because it’s close to pink and she can turn it into purple if she wants).

They were both consumed by their work as I hovered nervously nearby. Their mom (my sister-in-law) snapped some pictures and my stepdad (the girls’ grandpa) helped M with her technique.


Halfway through I had the genius idea to flip the yarn over so the girls could dye the bottom. This ended the neurosis over whether the dye would absorb all the way through.

At some point (they were occupied for about 40 minutes. Holy cats, is that impressive. I mean, I’m told to write lesson plans for 6-year-olds that are 15 minutes long, lest I lose them) my mom stopped by to watch and commented on A pressing her hands into the wet yarn. She was understandably concerned about them staining their hands. I smugly pointed out that all she was doing was squishing out clear water. That’s when it hit me. This was going to work. The dye was affixing to the yarn and staying where the girls wantonly flung it (in the case of M) carefully placed it.

Once the girls had stopped filling up clear spaces and started bordering on muddying the colors we gently suggested that they might be done.

Once we got them back into regular clothes and bundled up and off for a late-season bounce on the trampoline with Gramma and Grandpa, I folded the saran wrap up around the yarn and placed it in a glass casserole pan and heated it for 1:30 in 30-second increments.


In between each microwave session, I let the water drain out into one corner of the dish. Then I tested to see if it was clear (since the pan was brown) by placing a white paper in the pan. (It was clear each time but since I’m neurotically type-A careful, I still microwaved it to heat set the dye. Then I wrung it out (Pro-tip, the water, and yarn will be hot. Let it cool first) and hung it up to dry in the basement.


I’m sure the universe will even everything out for me and make A’s skein impossible to ball up (she was ‘playing’ with it beforehand) in response to how well the dying went. I’ll let you know what it looks like once it’s dry. (Hopefully, today sometime as I was to wrangle both skeins into center-pull balls before I leave for school Sunday.)


7 thoughts on “Dyeing Day

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