Dyeing for Beautiful Yarn!

Dyeing yarn

Tanis Gray on the set of her video, Kitchen Dyeing. Get the dyeing kit!

I’ve shopped for clothes so many times and settled on a color that I didn’t really love, or that didn’t flatter me as much as I wished.

But in knitting, we get to create clothing that fits us perfectly, in the exact color we want. Pretty cool. I’ve taken it a step further, and dyed my own yarn. It’s an amazing experience to experiment with your favorite colors and even to create your own colors!

Kitchen dying expert Tanis Gray is here to tell you more about dyeing yarn. She’s had some interesting experiences with beets, let me tell you!

A Tale of Beets, Onion Skins, and Kool-Aid

I’ve always been drawn to color. My mother is an artist who works mainly in pastels and oils. I’d sit in her studio watching her work after coming home from school, fascinated by the tubes of oil paints strewn about and tray upon tray of perfectly organized pastels, everything arranged in perfect color order. Walking into her studio was like walking into a rainbow.

I’ve written detailed posts on my blog about color theory and how color is used in marketing. Color is a science, and as knitters, it’s a huge piece of the equation when it comes to a finished project. Reading about color and how it makes you feel, how it affects your purchases, and what mood it brings to your knitting is a fascinating subject that I’ll never get tired of learning about.

I was mulling color over one day at my LYS and I couldn’t find the exact shade I wanted. I had messed around in my kitchen a few times with dyeing fabric and clothes, and as a child, dyeing Easter eggs was something I looked forward to every year. Many of my friends are hand dyers, but I didn’t want to use powdered dyes or any chemicals in our tiny kitchen where my 4-year old son and I spend a lot of time. I wondered, would it be possible to naturally dye yarn safely at home and get the results I wanted?

Dying yarn with turmeric

Look at that fabulous yellow colorway! It’s created by dyeing the yarn with the spice turmeric. Amazing!

When I was attending Rhode Island School of Design, I had an abstract drawing teacher who taught my very first class on my very first day. Our homework that first day was to create a drawing in water with a non-traditional material. (Going from an all-girls high school where I wore a plaid kilt for four years to suddenly being in art school where anything goes was a shock to the system!) After mulling it over a few days, I brought home some beets in a doggy bag from a restaurant, got into a shower stall fully clothed, and did my homework, drawing only with beets, water pouring down. Odd? Yes, definitely, but it taught me very quickly to let go of the idea of what I thought was a traditional color source. That beet drawing was my first experience with kitchen dyeing and I never looked at food the same way!

crock-pot-dyeingWith that lesson in mind, I went home from my LYS determined to create my perfect color way using only materials found in the kitchen. Grabbing coffee grounds, turmeric, onion skins, beets (those horrible beets somehow snuck their way back into my life again), tea, pomegranates, grapes, avocados, spinach, kool-aid and whatever else I could find in my cupboards, I started doing research for my Kitchen Dyeing video.

After copious amounts of research, talking to dyers around the world, asking questions to yarn companies, reading book after book, becoming friendly with my local garden shop after asking them a million questions about using plants as dye material, talking to the “spice lady” at the Asian supermarket where we get produce, and experimenting like a mad scientist on my stovetop, in my microwave, in my crock pot, and with solar dyeing, I became an expert in kitchen yarn dyeing.

If kitchen dyeing is something you’ve been wanting to try and weren’t sure where to start, join me in this wonderful new video!

Get that perfect color you’ve been searching for, dye your yarn safely using materials you hadn’t thought of as a color source, experiment with your heat options, and get the results you were hoping for. The sky is the limit when you have a few hanks of undyed yarn, your imagination and cupboards full of interesting materials.

See you in the kitchen!

—Tanis Gray, Yarn Dyer Extraordinaire

2015-05-18-11.31.07I find Tanis’ story so interesting! I love the idea of getting up close and personal with my yarn and dyestuffs to create custom colors; don’t you think that would be fun?

Our Kitchen Dyeing kit includes Tanis’ Kitchen Dyeing video and a skein of Lorna’s Laces “naked” yarn, ready for your kitchen dying adventures. You’ll also get a label with room to name your yarn color, and list the items and method you used to create your color.

And don’t forget to add the date! I still haven’t used some of the yarn that I created a few years ago at a backyard yarn-dyeing party with my yarn group, and I want to remember when I dyed my beautiful colorway.

Get your dyeing kit today and start experimenting with dyeing yarn in your kitchen. With Tanis’ expert instruction, you’ll end up with something to be really proud of.


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