Touch of Nectar

{May 2, 2009}   First Unraveling and Dying Experiment

I had been reading a bit about how to recycle yarn from old sweaters and such and finally decided to try it for myself. I found an 100% wool mens XL aran sweater at the thrift store for $5. I unraveled the seams and ended up with several HUGE balls of yarn.  It worked out to over 1000 yards of yarn. The green yarn alone was 1050 yards. The blue was another  389 yards and there was a couple of skeins I left for later, smaller, dying projects.

First, I wound them into skeins. I used the lid of a storage container to do this. Not the best thing, but the long sides are exactly 2 feet, so it made measuring easy. I tied the yarn in several places along the skeins so they wouldn’t get tangled.

Next, I washed the yarn in the kitchen sink. I used a bit of Doctor Bronners (lavender!) soap and tepid water. Squeezed gently to dry, then hung on my clothes drying rack while I prepared the dyes.

I had read that you could dye yarn in a crock pot, using food dyes, so this was the method I was going to try first. I soaked the yarn (yarn ramen!) in a water and vinegar solution as the crock pot heated up. Meanwhile, I mixed up a HUGE batch of green dye. Water, more white vinegar and LOTS of green and blue food coloring.  Not all the yarn would fit in the crock pot, so I did this in two batches, but I wanted the same dye for both batches…

After soaking for about an hour, I added the dye. I used my hands (in rubber gloves!) to squish the dye around a bit. Then I let it cook for several hours until the dye had almost been completely absorbed by the yarn. Repeat for batch #2.

I rinsed the yarn in hot, then warm, then cooler water. Squeezed it dry and hung it outside to dry. My original intention was to use the green yarn for a sweater for myself, but one of the larger skeins came out just a bit lighter (very noticable) than the other.

I’m pleased with the result and will try this again soon. Fun rainy day project!


jomomma says:

I’m wondering if you could just dye the sweater before raveling it out, like they do those sock yarn blanks. Have you ever tried dying alpaca yarn?

Mary q Contrarie says:

Nice picture of your clothes drying rack and how you hang your fabric. I am new to the art of dying fabrics and I have been trying to spread out the fabric to dry and it has been making a mess. I am going to try draping it like you did next time.

FWIW – I got that at Ikea for $10. I use it ALL the time!! 🙂

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