Dyeing self-striping sock yarn
I have been drooling over self-striping sock yarn with broad stripes for quite a while now. I’ve really wanted it, but I kept myself from buying any. I’m not knitting so many socks at the moment, and I have plenty of other sock yarns already!
What I have been thinking was that I do have undyed yarn, and I do have dye… And it would be fun to try to make self striping sock yarn myself. It can’t be that hard, right? I would just need to figure out the right techniques!
My thoughts were these:
- For yarn to make broader stripes, you need looong lengths of yarn in the same color. So you can’t just hang one end of a normal sized hank in the dye pot, as that would give shorter lengths of yarn in that color, though many of them.
- Following the above, the yarn needs to be divided in even portions in a way that makes it easy to dye it in the colors I want, resulting in the stripes I want.
- You do not want it all to tangle at any point.
- I want my socks to be identical, and as I’m knitting 2AAT, I’ll need to take that into account. Making a simple stripe pattern (red-white-blue), I can’t then just knit from each end of the ball, because that would make the striping on the socks opposite.
So what did I do?
- I took a big bottle, and wrapped the yarn around it until I thought a stripe was broad enough. Knitting the yarn takes up some of the length, so I’m not sure my stripes end up being 1½ cm in width as the yarn wrapped around the bottle does – but that doesn’t really matter. I’m here to figure out how to do it in the first place!
The yarn used for 1½ cm of wrapping around the bottle was exactly 4 wraps around the skein, as it was when I got it.
- I divided my skein into 2 portions, each 50g (one for each sock).
- Taking one strand of each of those two balls, I wound it around my swift again, tying the wraps together with a piece of contrasting yarn every 4th wrap. There were a lot more wraps than I thought there would be!!
- I then laid out the portions of yarn I got into 3 groups, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, in order to make an even distribution of the colors:
- These 3 groups where then again tied together (this time with another color of contrasting yarn), so I knew which portions belonged together:
- Finally I tied together the places where the groups were overlapping/travelling to another group:
- The dyeing process was as usual: I soaked the yarn for a good half hour in luke warm water, then dyed one group at the time, with the other hanging over the side. Choosing colors was hard, so I ended up just choosing red and blue, and keeping the third group in white/natural.
Rinsing the yarn, it promised well!
- I was really hoping I could just place the whole skein on my swift, and then wind the balls from there. What I hadn’t thought of, was that I had actually been crossing the yarn over itself many many times in order to divide it all in 3 groups, so there was a woven part in the middle of it all:
- So now started the big untangling! Luckily (after some patience and very deeeeep breaths) I quickly figured out a system to wrap the portions apart and place it all in one big skein:
Messy, but it’s a skein!
Finally, I wound the yarn off into a hand wound ball, just to avoid tangling and too much swearing.
Next step? Knitting socks ;)
I might just want to re-wind that ball into two balls (one for each sock), as I have bad experience with knitting “simultaneously” from one ball… Let’s see when it happens!
One thing I do know: This process is not something I’d want to follow if I would dye to sell the yarn. It has all in all probably taken me about 3 hours, with all the tangling and untangling and such – and I would really need a good re-skeiner as well ;)