Mary Had A Little Lamb ……….


Okay I don’t have any lambs. I do have wool! This picture is the first step in my hand painting of my sock yarn with acid dye. I covered up the island with muslin and plastic wrap. Ideally, I would have a plastic barrier under the muslin but I cannot find my old vinyl tablecloth ……….

Next – I soaked the BFL/Nylon sock yarn in a solution of two quarts water and a glug of Synthrapol for about half an hour – I could have done it longer but I’m impatient to get going.


Then I had to chose my colors. I wanted to do four and I wanted to make sure – as much as possible – that the colors do not bleed together to make brown – brown is not cool.


I chose Lilac, Bright Aqua, Brilliant Yellow and Tangelo. I used acid dyes this time – the ones in blue are Fiber Reactive Dyes and I plan on using them too.

Next I mixed the dyes (while wearing my mask) and set them on the island. Ā I used from a tablespoon down to a teaspoon of dye to get the color I wanted. I added a generous glug of vinegar to each pot. I used large tablespoons to dump the dye on the yarn.


And then the serious fun begins!


I mopped up the center of the plastic wrap as I went. When this is all rolled together some bleeding of color will result. I covered the top with another sheet of plastic wrap before I began rolling it up. And I mopped up a lot of purple dye – seems I was too generous there.

I made sure to put purple between blue and orange between brilliant yellow. This way when blue and purple mix a nice color will result – when yellow and blue mix I will get green and when orange and yellow mix I will get orangey yellow! I see so many hand painted yarns on the market that have huge splotches of brown in them – this is because the people doing the dyeing don’t know their color chart. Purple and yellow make brown – red and green make brown ……….. it’s simple really and there’s no need for ugly browns to mess up gorgeous color.

Next I put the canner with its canning basket upside down. I rolled up the yarn and stuck it in a zip-lock back. I put the bag on top of the canning basket with water only about 1″ below the canning basket. I don’t want my bundle soaked in boiling water.



I didn’t turn the heat on the canner until the bundle was inside the pot. With yarn the temperature must increase gradually and must decrease gradually.

Now I sit and wait. In about a half an hour I can shut off the pot. I will let the yarn cool to room temperature in place. God I hope I like it …………….

Update – the yarn is drying. I’m not as pleased as I could be. Back to the drawing board time ……. the colors are very dark. Either I used too much dye powder in the solution or there was too much bleeding in the pot. Next time, brighter colors, not as many, less dye on the yarn – we’ll see if I can get something bright. The yarn (which I will photograph when totally dry) looks like what I would call autumn colors. The bright aqua is more dark green, the yellow is gold, tangelo is muted orange and the lilac is a dark purple. Go figure. Actually this is why I like doing this so much – I have a great skein of sock yarn in colors I wasn’t expecting and now I get to experiment some more. My mom wouldn’t let me have a chemistry set in the house …….


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    It’s going to be trial and error – even though I’ve been dyeing fabrics since 1987 or ’88 (can’t remember!) it is still always trial and error. I don’t know how the big companies like Fleece Artist do it – not in their kitchen, I’m sure!


  2. suth2 says:

    I cannot berlieve how much trouble you have taken to make your own yarn. You are certainly one clever lady. I am looking forward to seeing the result and your next try. How do you know what to do? You obviously have some sort of textile background?


  3. Jennifer says:

    I just love messing with dyes! I can’t wait to do the next one – this one might be a little dark …….. too much dye in the solution …….


  4. Seriously, I would go barefoot, if I had to this to get socks. OMG Jennifer, NEVER in a million years. I’m so happy that you are having fun, however. Different strokes…


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