Monday, July 15, 2013

Yarn Dyeing, Round 1

My Aunt Susan and Uncle Kenny live in Tulsa, OK just a couple of hours from me and keep a few adorable alpacas.  They are brown, black, and white and named Cocoa, Magnum, Jordan, and Willie (the last named after my granddad according to my Aunt).   My uncle tried to get my aunt interested in spinning/crocheting/knitting since they have all the lovely alpaca wool, but it's just not her thing.  A couple years back though she did send a bunch of wool out to be spun and she was kind enough to give me the giant box of resulting yarn when I was up there visiting last weekend.  

Talk about the best present ever, it's 100% alpaca, DK weight, and super soft.  I'm crocheting her a scarf with some of the black (with brown accents) but I haven't yet decided what to do with all the rest.  One thing I did decide to try was dyeing some of the white.  I was excited to learn I could use my procion fabric dyes but just had to soak the yarn in acid (vinegar, since it's a protein based fiber) rather than base (soda ash, like cotton which is cellulose based).  Who knew?   

I'm definitely a very novice dyer, but I followed Melody Johnson's easy wool dyeing tutorial which has really great instructions.

Presoaking in vinegar

Dribbling on the dye mix (because "rainbow" is my color of choice)

Wrapped for microwaving

Cooling in the sink.

Final dried yarn.

The colors turned out really pretty and soft, although I didn't get as much yellow as I'd like.  Interestingly, the colors all looked much more intense during the dyeing process and a bunch more dye rinsed out than I thought.  I don't know if I should have microwaved longer, or let it cool longer, or soaked in vinegar longer, or if alpaca wool dyes differently from regular wool?  I suppose I can just use more dye next time, this was definitely not a precise dyeing process, but I still think it turned out really pretty.

Finally, one last question, I've been thinking of trying to sell some of the yarn to help my aunt make back some of the money she paid to have it spun.  I don't have an etsy store, but thought about opening one or maybe just seeing if anyone has any other ideas? 


  1. I like it! I dont know anything about selling, so no useful advice, but I wish you lots of luck!

  2. They are really beautiful. And knitting alpaca is like caressing a baby's skin!

  3. Shannon, lovely yarn! Alpaca is my favorite fiber to work with - so soft and much less likely to felt than lamb's/sheep's wool. I currently have a bag of black I bought to card and spin with a drop spindle - which Owen is better at than I am. I have enjoyed protein dying both wool and silk with kool-aid and with food coloring. They are super-inexpensive dyes to experiment with and IMO and experience give really nice colors too. Have you compared selling with Etsy and on Ebay? I'd surely be interested if you started selling.

  4. that's so awesome! I can't wait to see what you make with it. All I've ever used is acrylic yarn (boring). I'm not confident in my knitting abilities yet to spend the money on wool! Maybe you could try to sell the yarn at a farmer's market? The fees on etsy kind of suck and if you don't sell it, or don't plan to sell more it might not be worth it. Or maybe Craigslist? You could also try Big Cartel. They don't charge for the first 5 items.