Thursday, August 8, 2013

Green Sun Tea

Today's post is much more sunny than last week's. Even though this summer hasn't been the sunniest or hottest Kansas has ever seen. In fact, we've been having rain pretty much every day for the past 2 weeks. Some towns are even getting flooded. I personally wish it would just stop - it's getting really muggy and gross out.

Despite the lack of heat, I have still managed to pull off a new obsession of mine: Sun dying. Although not as quick as kettle dying or using a microwave, I think it's more fun to watch the slow process and my results seem so much more rewarding!

You may remember my last post about the hats I had been knitting. I started with this lovely blue yarn that I was just sick of looking at and decided to experiment. One skein got added to a jar of grape kool-aid and another got added to a jar of black-cherry. The end results were much more pleasing than more blue!

With my feather and fan babydoll done (I will share that another time), I decided it was time for more socks and also decided I needed to dye this yarn. And thus my sun dye experiment began.

There are only so many colors you can do with Kool-aid and liquid food coloring (my Wilton's dyes are in Manhattan), but after this project I am starting to prefer these two to the gel.

The first phase of my experiment started with a complete dye. I skeined up and soaked my yarn (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon). Adding lemonade and vinegar to the bath I then let it sit out on my deck until the water became clear (although it didn't get completely clear because lemonade isn't a clear still rinsed clear though). 

I wanted the yarn to be primarily green, but they don't make/sell lemon-lime kool-aid around here... So I improvised. One packet of blue raspberry lemonade (once again, not 'clear') plus several drops of green liquid food coloring led to the above color. In order to preserve some of the lighter shades of yellow, I used basic acrylic and tied off sections, like tye dye. Into the bath it went and sat for the majority of a second day. 

Finally, I wanted some areas of dark and decided on a blue-green. Adding three packets of the blue-raspberry lemonade plus some more green and blue foodcoloring led to this shade, which I really liked. I tied off even more sections, leaving only a few spots here and there and let it soak. I got a bit impatient towards the end and that whole not-transparent blue thing made me mad so I think I took it out a bit early (it didn't rinse completely clear). I still got my desired effect though. 

The dark green didn't soak through every layer of yarn (maybe because I didn't let it soak long enough?) but I still achieved my desired effects. The end result? Two lovely skeins of hand dyed sock yarn, wound and ready for knitting!
I hope you enjoyed my adventures in dying, I really hope I get to do more of this in the future. Have a great week everyone!


How I feel about the rain vs the sun right now. 


  1. This looks like so much fun! Just love that bright green!

  2. Those worked out so well. Really lovely skeins. I'm too afraid of making things worse!

    1. I am too, which is why I usually do it only with yarn I don't care so much about. But I am also pretty good at knowing what colors work well together. I guess it comes with being an artist.

  3. Okay, how cool it that!?! Solar dyeing looks so fun and I love the eco friendliness of it. That sock yarn looks yummy and I bet it smells fantastic! What's up next for solar dyeing? Ever try it with flowers/plants instead of koolaid? I've not, but it's on my to do list. Can't wait to see the socks you knit up with that yarn :) And the kitty picture is too funny!

    1. I love it! I have tried a bit of natural dying with plants but never solar style. I have to figure it out a bit more first (like mordants and such). I definitely want to keep doing it though. I have the socks done but since they were a gift I have to get the recipient to send me a photo!

  4. How cool is that?! Is it really just vinegar and food dye? Then you leave it be and come back and it's dyed?! I love it.


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