This is not the Kool Aid dyeing post. That will be the next post. So for all of you waiting to dye along with me – go soak your yarn!
This process (soaking your yarn in warm water and a drop or two of Dawn dish detergent for at least an hour, but preferably overnight) is called a presoak, and it does several things:
1. Your yarn may be a bit dirty- it loosens the bits of dirt trapped in the yarn, if there are any.
2. It opens your yarn’s… pores, and allows it to better receive the dye. Dyeing with bone dry yarn will usually result in uneven color. (If that’s what you want, then go for it!)
3. If there is any lanolin left in your wool- the presoak will help remove that. Lanolin is… for lack of a better term- sheep oil. Just like your scalp produces oil to protect your head- sheep produce oil to protect their skin. Wool will not dye well, if there’s lanolin left in it.
So- go presoak your yarn.
Now, for the rest of you who don’t mind hearing me ramble- let me tell you a little about my weekend. First off- I was sick all weekend. So the whole process may not have actually been as herculean as it felt… but it felt pretty involved. This is not to say that your process will be as hard. It just takes 3 times the effort and time to dye for a tutorial, than it does to just dye. Add on top of that the sickness that saps all strength and will. Add on top of that the fact that I have never dyed with powdered drink mix, OR liquid food coloring, OR gel food coloring. And you have a HERCULEAN task.
Let’s just say that the process took up most of my Saturday. Which is actually okay, because I didn’t feel like laying in bed, or watching too much on TV. Or going out and doing things. But I knew I needed to do the samples, because it was my bright idea in the first place. See- I’ve been going over the archives in my dye group, and one of the questions that stuck with me is, “Why are dyers sooo close-lipped about how to do things?” And the answer to that question is one of four things:
1. You’re not asking the right questions.
– Sometimes you don’t know what to ask, are vague about what you want to ask, or you don’t know exactly how to ask it. And you end up not getting the right answer, OR not getting an answer at all.
2. No two dyers will have the same process.
– What works for me may not work for you. There is a lot of science involved in dyeing, but also a lot of art.
3. Perspiration is part of the process.
– There is a difference between a person asking for clarification, and a person just trying to take the easy way out. If you just drop into the conversation, asking for what seems like a cheat sheet (Can I have your dye recipes?)– most likely you are not going to get an answer. We had to work to develop what we do; and you will also need to put in some sweat equity.
4. They are afraid that you will be BETTER than them, so they don’t want to tell you how to do it.
– This is a small group of dyers, but they exist. In fact- this group of people will exist in every single job there is.
The truth is that there is room for ALL of us- from the “I just want a certain red for this sweater I want to make”, to the hobby dyer, to the people who want to make this a career. Every one of you will put colors together in a different way. Some of those ways I don’t care for, personally. And some are completely spectacular, and I’m a little jealous of your skill (or luck). So while I’m not going to just list my dye recipes for you- I will help you to lay down a foundation for you to make your own (starting with these sample tutorials). And even if you never progress beyond a skein here or there for you to use in your own projects- these tutorials will give you the foundation for clear, REPEATABLE results.