Monday, August 17, 2015

Frustration-free yarn bundles for dyeing with Procion MX

Here's how to prepare a skein of yarn for dyeing so you avoid tangles and frustration.
Take 2 chairs and drape the skein of yarn over the backs of the chairs. Move the chairs far enough apart that the yarn will not be slack, but you don't want to stretch it. The demo yarn is Queen Anne's lace. It is a 100% cotton and dyes up beautifully with Procion MX dyes. I then use it for couching. 
Dye bundle tutorial 1
 Now you need a fiber that is not going to take the dye, so it is easy to see to remove when you are done. Acrylic yarn is perfect. I see you, Ms. Twitch, leave it alone!
Eyeball the yarn and tie a piece of acrylic yarn in two equidistant spots. Notice how the tied pieces are by the chair backs. I am going to be working in the open area between the two chairs.
Dye bundle tutorial 2
Take as many strands as you feel will be comfortable for dye batches. I find 10-15 strands is a good number to work with, as I can be sure the dye is squished into all the strands. Nothing worse than finding white patches when you are done. Tie a piece of acrylic yarn around the strands you have chosen. You can use a simple double knot. Separate another group of strands and tie them together. 
Dye bundle tutorial 3
Tie them loosely, so that you can insert the tip of your finger into the knot. If the knot is very tight, you risk the dye not being able to get to the fiber.
Dye bundle tutorial 4

Continue until all the fiber is tied off into batches. When you are done, move the yarn around a little, and you will see if there are strands you have missed.
Dye bundle tutorial 5

 Now do the same on the other side of the chair. You should now have the yarn tied in 4 places. If you think of the skein as a square, then 2 opposite corners should have a single tie, and the other opposite corners should have multiple ties. 
Dye bundle tutorial 6

Ms. Twitch is doing her best to undo them all, so we will have to move quickly! Now comes the scary bit!
Dye bundle tutorial 7
Cut the entire skein at one of the single ties.If you wanted longer pieces, you could only separate out the threads once, and only cut once. You would then have yarn the full length of the skein, but it would still be separated into bundles.

I prefer to hand couch, so I like lengths half the length of the skein. I am therefore going to cut again at the other single tie. I now have neatly bundled yarn, ready for a soda soak and dyeing. See this post. 

Having been scolded for being obnoxious, Ms. Twitch is now feigning indifference to the whole process. Do not be fooled...
The less untangling you have to do, the more time you can spend dyeing, and that's what we are really interested in..color, color and more color, and the ability to blend hand-dyed thread and hand-dyed fabric, and have fun! 

Shahrazade yarn, cotton and rayon blend

Project in process

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