Monday, 28 April 2014

Dyeing Woman

It was our sick little joke while I was going through health problems earlier in the year that I was a dyeing woman as I focused on learning new skills and techniques to dye yarn. I assure you I'm relatively healthy, it's just our dark sense of humour.

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I've tried my hand at a lot of things over the years from hobbies to careers and everything over, under and in between. I don't know whether it's luck or talent or perseverance but I tend to master the basics of most things that I try my hand at and so have a range of skills to add to my collection.  Knitting was probably the first of those things that really felt like it was meant to be - it's hard for me, now, to imagine a time when I didn't knit - but in dyeing I have felt for the first time in my life that I've found my calling and I think that's quite a rare thing to discover. 

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How often does anyone try something completely new and have an overwhelming feeling of this is exactly what I'm supposed to do for the rest of my life?

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It starts with a bowl of virtually colourless spaghetti and goes through several stages before emerging in beautiful, breathtaking colour combinations.  There is no exact science but the results can certainly be more predictable the more experience you have and I'm having an absolute blast experimenting and expressing myself through colour.

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As the colours emerge through a fog from the steamer, I struggle to catch my breath every time a new skein reveals itself.  The possibilities are infinite and I am in complete heaven!

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I'm using acid dyes made with vinegar and setting the colour with heat from a steamer rather than bubbling it in a pan. When people ask me what dyes I'm using I'm quite reluctant to say acid dyes because it sounds much more menacing than it actually is. This process is actually more environmentally friendly than many natural dyes. The dye is completely absorbed by the yarn and the excess water from the process is actually drinkable.

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There are a few skeins and cakes of my hand dyed yarn available for purchase in the shop if any of them catch your eye - and I really, really hope they do because I'd love for my shop to specialise in hand dyed yarns.  

breakfast at tiffanys sock yarn


watermelon crush dk


I'm working with a lovely soft merino DK and also some 4 ply sock yarn at the moment, both of which are superwash so very practical.  I have to admit that a lot of those skeins are being tucked straight into my stash and/or hopping immediately onto my needles because I love them so much. I hope you do too!


coralbergine dk

31 comments:

  1. Stunning, truly beautiful colours and combinations.

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  2. You did a wonderful job. I just love dying yarn. I'm anxious to do some more now that the weather is getting warmer.

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  3. Wow, I can't even imagine how you get the variegation in color without it all running together! Beautifully amazing! Have you even spun your own wool? As a child there was a craft fair in a park near my house and they had women spinning wool. I spent the entire craft fair hanging around that group of women. They taught me how to spin, how to card wool, how to use a drop spindle.....all of these years later and that memory is vivid for me. They dyed their wool using things like vegetables and tea....it was the 70's! lol

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    1. Thanks, Annette! I haven't spun the wool, no - I went on a spinning and dyeing course at the beginning of the year but the spinning was so difficult that I haven't kept going with it.
      Your memories sound lovely!

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    2. Oh, already ahead of you on the tea dyeing (even though it's not the 70s!) http://www.homebakedonline.com/2013/09/yarn-tea-and-thinking-about-spinning.html

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  4. so so very pretty! Looks like you are having fun being creative :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen. I'm having so, so much fun!

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  5. loving the blueberry cream. good times!

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  6. Beautiful! This is something I would love to learn. May I ask, did you attend a workshop to learn this, or is it something that could be self taught from the internet?

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    1. I did attend a workshop and I've been researching and thinking about it (as is my process) for years with books and the internet. It's definitely possible to self-teach but being shown how to do it is helpful, I find.
      Are you coming to Yarndale? There will be dyeing workshops again this time I think.

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  7. Hannah these are absolutely stunning I can see why they are all ending up in your stash..........I could be tempted to add a few to mine!

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  8. Amazing colors. I recently dyed some small amounts just to try it and LOVED it. Its a lot of fun! Your color combinations look great!

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  9. Stunning colors! You have a very good sense of colors and humor
    :)

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  10. these are beautiful,love the pink and green one especially, looks like fuchsias.x

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  11. Gorgeous! I've been knitting with dk yarn and loving it. Glad you are having so much fun, Hannah! And glad you are well, too! xo

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  12. It looks absolutely fantastic as well as a lot of fun, but what I've never been able to figure out is how the colours are kept separate in the dye bath! Why isn't the entire skein a grungy mix of all the colours used?

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    1. Thanks, Brenda!
      For this kind of dyeing there are several methods but no dye bath at all! The yarn can be dip-dyed or painted with colour and then the heat is added - I use a steamer but some people microwave theirs. Even so, you still have to be careful about grungy colours. It's a learning process.

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  13. Your dyed yarns look beautiful. I'm glad to see someone else has my strange sense of humour. I'm still looking for that thing that says you've found your calling in life :) Enjoy the bank holiday.
    Ali xx

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  14. Totally drool worthy! Beautiful colour combos no wonder you are happy x

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