Hand-dyed yarns has recently exploded into the yarn world lately. They’re look so beautiful and no two yarns will be the same. There are tons and tons of tutorials on how to dye yarns at home, from using Kool-Aid (which we sadly do not have here in NZ), to professional acid dyes, to natural dyes. There are also tons of tutorials on different methods of dyeing yarns, from cooking it in a pot, to leaving it in a jar for a few weeks/months, to using sock blanks.
They’re all so cool and, me being me, has always wanted to try dyeing my own yarns. But they all sound so hard and expensive to be honest. I’m a cheapie. Undyed wool yarn and dyes are expensive here in NZ (like most other things in NZ). Not to mention I’ll need to buy a separate pot and utensils that can only be used for dyeing. Then, if I want to make rainbow gradient yarn, I’ll have to buy many different coloured yarns, which again are expensive. If we have Kool-Aid here in NZ then I’d probably try it, but we don’t. Dyeing yarn also requires patience. I’m not a very patience person.
I figured that it’ll probably be cheaper buying already dyed yarns. But, hello! They’re quite expensive for just a skein! If I’m going to buy special yarns, it would be to make something big, like a sweater or a dress. But to make a sweater or a dress would require a lot of yarns, and I just could not justify the price I would I have to pay… Don’t even get me started on shipping to NZ as well!
I have one more hope left in me, however. I was thinking if it’s possible to dye yarn with permanent markers. And I managed to find 3 (yes, just 3…) blog posts on dyeing yarn with permanent markers (or sharpies). I went with this one here. The blog is from 5 years ago and it doesn’t really show what the end result looked like, but I figured since it was a blog post about an event created by Lion Brand, it should work.
It doesn’t look too complicated and the materials shouldn’t cost too much. In fact, you really only need a sock blank and a pack of permanent markers. I was going to knit my own sock blank, but I ended up just buying one from TradeMe (kind of like the eBay of NZ), since I couldn’t be bothered learning to knit. The sock blank was knitted with 2 strands of yarns so I’ll end up with 2 balls of yarns. I bought my permanent markers from Kmart for $5 for a pack of 10 different coloured markers. Other things you need are some sort of plastic tray or sheet to put underneath your sock blank, water in a spray bottle and an iron.
The instructions are simple enough. Just colour in your blank however way you want. Then, spray water every now and again to make the colours saturate to the other side of the blank and to make it spread as well. Now, if you want to make the colours spread even more, so as to create more gradient, add some rubbing alcohol to your water. I didn’t do this because I don’t want my colours to spread too much. I was going for that speckled look.
I wanted to experiment a bit here. So I started by colouring in strips of rainbow. You can see in the picture below, I started with the colour pink. Immediately after I finished a strip of pink, I sprayed it with lots of water, so the colours ran down and create a gradient. Unfortunately, the area directly underneath the strip of pink becomes so wet, that I couldn’t colour my blank properly with the next colour (red). So once I finished with the strip of red, I went on to the strip of orange without spraying. I was able to colour it in better, so I started colouring in 2 other strips of colours. After that I went back to the red and orange strip to spray it with water. Unfortunately, although the colours spread a little, it didn’t spread as much and create as much as a gradient as the pink strip. Possibly because the red and orange strips have dried down a bit more by then.
I ended up doing 3 colours, then spray the first 2 colours, then colour in 2 more colours, etc… I like to also pat the area that has just been sprayed as well to help the water saturate more. I was hoping this would help the colour spread and create more gradient. Below is what it looked like after I have coloured and sprayed the blank.
Then, to experiment more, I drew one strip of rainbow.
Then, I drew hearts, which I sprayed right away after colouring.
Here’s what I ended up with once I’m satisfied I’ve done enough colouring.
I then leave it out to dry in the sun.
Here’s what it looked like once dried completely:
Once dried completely, it’s time to iron the sock blank to set the colours.
Then it’s time to roll the blank to a cake! I’ve included lots of pictures here so you can see how each pattern turned out.
Yes, I used toilet paper to make my cake.
Here’s what the finished results look like!
In total, I got 2 balls of yarns for $29 NZ dollars, which are pretty darn cheap! I love how the end result looked like! At some points the yarn looked like a rainbow unicorn gradient, at other points like a mermaid gradient, and at the other points beautifully speckled! Exactly what I wanted! I love it!
Note: The yarn did not smell like permanent markers afterwards. However, I do not know if this will be the case with other brands of permanent markers.
I’m thinking of making a cardigan with this but I may need more yarn…