Adventures in dyeing, part B.

You may recall that I have made a couple tuques from an old voyageur pattern.

IMG_2096  IMG_2097

Smokey liked them so well that he wanted one, too. Tragically, I did not have anything like enough of that gray-blue DK superwash wool for another hat. (Blue-gray is an authentic color for tuques, according to my source. Red is the #1 authentic color, but Smokey is a blue guy.)

I searched my stash and came up with six balls of Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply fingering weight in a non-pastel light blue.


I showed it to Smokey. He said it would do, but I could tell he was less than enthusiastic.

Remembering my success with the tea-dyeing, I tried that with the Rowan, hoping to make it darker.


That's the Rowan in the center. At left is some Knit Picks Gloss Fingering (70/30 merino/silk) and at right, the tiny ball of the yarn left over from the two tuques. 

As you can see, the tea dyeing made the yarn darker but NOT better. I stared at it for several days hoping to convince myself that it was good. That it was not a dirty greenish-blueish-gray, roughly the color of a week-old corpse.

Back to the dye pot.

This time I went all pro and bought a bottle of Rit dye in Faded Denim. I followed the instructions on the bottle to the letter except that I made the dye solution roughly half strength. If the yarn wasn't dark enough, I could use the rest of the bottle and make it darker; if I used made the dye bath full strength and the yarn got too dark, I was screwed.

While I was at it, I decided to tea-dye some red Black Bunny Bamberino that I won awhile back and pictured in yesterday's post. My kitchen was quite the chemistry lab for a few days. That's the blue yarn in the Rit dye in the foreground, the red yarn in the tea solution in the second, lower pot.

Please ignore the blackened portion of the range front; that is left over from my epic oven fail.




DSCN0018Rowan 4-ply in the pot.


DSCN0022Drying on my rack in the laundry room. Looking good, although the yarn was still damp.


You can see that the dye job was not absolutely even. Apparently I had not managed to get the yarn 100% saturated with water before immersing it in the dye bath.


Tied the skeins a bit too tightly in a few places, too.

It was my hope that the unevenness would turn out to be attractive once knit up. I wound the blue yarn back into balls and swatched.


Do you know how hard it is to get a good photo of dark blue knitting? This is the best I could do, but I think you can see that it resembles a nicely broken-in pair of blue jeans. Smokey pronouced it perfect.

I did one swatch on US#3 needles and one, double-stranded, on US#6s. He liked the heavier one better. (Yay, knitting on #6s goes ever so much faster than on #3s.) And I loved knitting the Rowan; nice stuff, indeed. When Smokey locates the hat — he is sure it is somewhere in the house — I will blog that, too.

And that is my entrance* to the wonderful world of dyeing yarn. Not planning to go pro or anything crazy like that, but it is nice to know that if a yarn's color is not pleasing to me it may be possible to improve it.


  • The red Bamberino was a nice enough red but a little too saturated and too pink for my taste.
  • The red yarn on the middle of the rack up there? That was after tea-dyeing it once. 
  • Still too bright of a red.
  • Dyed it again with stronger tea solution.
  • Still pretty red, but probably okay.
  • (much much later) Yes, the over-dyed red is quite nice now. Several squares in the red quadrant of the sock yarn afghan are knit from it, and I fell in love with it.


* I experimented with Kool Aid dyeing a couple years earlier with pleasing results. Two of those yarns were used in the Red Quadrant, and the third will probably be used in the Blue Quadrant.

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0 Responses to Adventures in dyeing, part B.

  1. k says:

    Ooooh, that worked really well. I hope the hat shows up for its photo op.

  2. gayle says:

    I have lots of dyes, but don’t play with them nearly enough. Such fun to watch colors appear.
    Though I’ve always ended up with multicolored hands since I seldom remember to wear gloves…

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