Hobbies to Dye For!

Last blog post we talked about creating goals for the New Year and shifting our mindset away from 'resolutions' that can feel burdensome and focus on re-aligning our daily actions to reflect the lifestyle we desire.

We also talked about ways to unwind, relax, and practice mindfulness. Perhaps it is down time, less screens, or enjoying a new hobby. Well, it wouldn't be The Autumn Acorn if the second blog of the year talked about anything other than yarn!

So for those of you patiently awaiting the return of crafting blogs and fiber art topics...this one is for you! So blanket up and let's talk about hand dyeing yarn!

Picture a warm Spring day, sitting on your porch sipping a cup of coffee, admiring the beautiful spring colors, and itching to do something crafty (honestly, I just described my Tuesdays). This is the origin story to my love of hand dyeing yarn. I began my hobby with citric acid and colored food gel!

Sometime after experiencing the exhilarating magic of pulling yarn out of an exhausted dye bath and somewhere between cooking ingredients and plant extract natural dyes, I dove into the depths of researching dye techniques.

I cannot recommend a resource more than The Modern Natural Dyer: A Comprehensive Guide to Dyeing Silk, Wool, Linen, and Cotton at Home. Not only are there gorgeous photos and step by step guides, there are free knitting patterns!!! (That's three exclamation points of awesome!). Not to mention that it comes with shade cards to provide a visual reference for all the colors you could ever achieve!

Seriously, this book has it all! Not to mention it looks great on your coffee table.

There are tons of resources available from step by step guides to color theory conversations, tales of dyes gone wrong, and resources for what to do with those "terrible colors". I'd recommend podcasts by Sweet Georgia or Knit Picks. Not to mention, sites like Ravelry have forums open for community members looking to trade or sell mis-pours and accidental dyes. This way you never have to feel like your dye experiments are wasted.

For those of you new to the world of hand dyeing, don't be afraid to try your hand (literally, you will definitely need gloves and a clean space) at the art. Honestly, we could hold countless seminars on everything about hand dyeing yarn, so let's cover some fundamentals.

Know your yarn's fiber content. Are you using wool, plant based, or synthetic? This is crucial to know as different dyes will react differently to the type of fiber. For example, plant based yarns require a fiber reactive dye while animal based yarns need acid dyes.

Choose your method of dye for the colorway you want. There are techniques from hand painting, kettle dye, or submersion.

Although I love the experience and process of learning to color and dye my own skeins, there is absolutely a learning curve that comes with the experimentation process. You can take a very scientific approach to dyeing and measure every gram with acute accuracy, but I just dove right in and went for it. I’ve always said, if I have to do math equations in order to dye yarn, then I don’t want anything to do with it!

Honestly, my main focus is getting a color that brings me joy - the journey to get there is always an experiment. That’s why I don’t typically take custom orders for specific colors or have repeatable colorways - that sounds too technical and mathematical to me and I’m just over here trying to be creative.