Dyeing deluge!

Suzie Blackman
Wednesday, 27 November 2013

When my regular partner in craft,  Jessica from The Toile and Trouble, expressed an interest having a go at hand-dyeing I of course obliged. Much fun was had, many methods tried and a rainbow of unique and beautiful yarn emerged from the dye pot, most of which is for sale in the shop.

Onion skin dyed sock yarn

Onion skin dyed sock yarn

This is the second time I’ve dyed using onion skins and found them to be very reliable so wrote up a tutorial. This time around I only kept the best-looking onion skins and as a result we got beautiful, bright, golden-yellow yarn.  This skein of onion-dyed sock yarn is available for £12.

Luxury merino sock yarn in 'Raspberry beret' colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in ‘raspberry beret’ colourway

It’s easy to obtain bright pinks with synthetic dyes but colours can appear flat. It can be a challenge to achieve a shade with depth. I dipped this skein several times in slightly different shades to achieve a bold but complex shade of raspberry. Available for £12.

Hand-dyed tussah silk in ‘Waterloo sunset’

Silk can be dyed using exactly the same process as wool but it takes a bit more persuasion to absorb the dye; colours are muted and subtle. We were aiming for ‘pinky-orange’ with this batch and I think we got pretty close! These two 100g skeins are available for £9 each.

By contrast, superwash merino is much more predictable and absorbs dye like a sponge.

Luxury merino sock yarn in 'Supergrass' colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in ‘Supergrass’ colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in 'Neptune's lair' colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in ‘Neptune’s lair’ colourway

I enjoyed creating these bright shades – I used the same green base for both, then over-dyed one with blue and one with yellow-green. There are two skeins of Neptune’s lair and two of Supergrass available for £12/skein.

Lemon yellow sport weight bouclé yarn

Lemon yellow sport weight bouclé yarn

Not all yarn is a blank-canvas. This lightweight silk and cashmere bouclé was a beige marl colour. I dyed it a flat, zingy yellow so that the texture can speak for itself. I’m afraid none of this is for sale as I have a project in mind.

Luxury merino sock yarn in 'velvet underground' colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in ‘velvet underground’ colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in 'oil slick' colourway

Luxury merino sock yarn in ‘oil slick’ colourway

The thing I find the most difficult with synthetic dyes is obtaining neutral brows and greys to compliment more intense colours. Out of the box, synthetic dyes are almost neon. Adding black is not the answer – this makes colours dark and muddy. Careful colour-mixing of primary shades and repeated dipping in dilute dye solutions work well, but require patience. I learned a lot creating these two batches and I’m really pleased with both. Two skeins of each of velvet underground and oil slick are available for £12/skein.

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.

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