Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yarn Dyeing Workshop

This past Sunday afternoon, a friend and I participated in a yarn dyeing workshop at Lion Brand Yarn Studios near Union Square. (If you are into yarn crafts and live in NYC, go there! It is an awesome shop and the people who work there don't mind if you touch every ball of yarn on the shelves.) The workshop focused on how to dye self-striping yarn, which is yarn that is dyed to have different stripes of color in it so you don't have to change skeins to get the color-changing effect.

Our instructor gave us "sock blanks," which are already-knitted swatches of material that contain enough yarn to make a pair of socks. They had been knit on a knitting machine before class, so all we had to do was paint them (which is, of course, my favorite part.)

For this process, we used acid dyes. Our yarn blanks were soaked in water before class, and given to us ready to be painted. We could mix the dyes with less water to get very intense colors, or more water to get more pastel colors. (I naturally opted for intense, bright colors.) After mixing the dyes with water in cups, we used foam brushes to dab the mixture onto our yarn, making sure that the dyes bled all the way through to the other side of the yarn.

It was neat to watch everyone in the workshop paint their yarn because even though we were given the same instructions and the same basic tools, everyone's yarn blanks ended up looking completely different. Some people painted triangles or zig-zags and some chose stripes, some chose bright colors while others used more subdued tones. Harkening back to the little dyeing I had done in my college weaving and color theory courses, I chose yellow, magenta and turquoise and let them bleed into one another to make purple, orange and green in some places. My friend took one look at my bright yellow yarn and said, "Brianna, that is so you."

After we were all done painting, our instructor wrapped up our soggy yarn in plastic bags and placed them all in a crock pot. Heat and pressure helps the dye set into the yarn. After about twenty minutes, our yarn was still soggy but ready to be taken home, washed, and made into something. Mine is currently hanging in the bathroom, drying out after its last rinse. I'm excited to make something out of it!

Now for the fun part: pictures! (Thanks to the staff at Lion Brand Studios for the photos-- not to mention the workshop!)

Supplies on the table: dyes, cups, patterns, brushes and a clean sock blank.

Workshop participants busy with their sock blanks-- you can see mine there in the foreground with the bright rainbow dyes on it.

Showing off my work!

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