I've been having so much fun with Ravelry, and doing TONS of knitting. It seems I have more to say about my stuff, so I decided to join the blogosphere. I was PM-ing a fellow raveler with info about dyeing, and decided this would be a good place to post it, too!
Dyeing is one of the most fun things to do, ever. You really can't make mistakes. If you don't like the way things turn out, you can always overdye your skein. It's all good. And very addictive.I use Jacquard acid dyes, but there are others out there that work as well. I like to hand paint my skeins, that way I can control where the color goes. I can use more colors than Kettle dyeing, although that works well, too. Here's my procedure for hand painting:
1. Soak skeins for at least 1/2 hour, in water with a few drops of synthrapol. I've read that other people have used Dawn.
2. Cover counter with large drop cloths, old shower curtain, etc. Lay out long sections of Plastic wrap to wrap painted skeins in.
3. Prepare dye solutions. I use large plastic cups, or squeeze bottles. I'm not that accurate, but it doesn't matter unless you are really fanatical about reproducing your results. I use about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of dye powder, and put it in the cup with a tiny bit of water to dissolve. After the powder is pretty much dissolved, I'll add a bit more water, maybe 1/4 of a cup or so, then add maybe 2-3 oz. of Vinegar.
4. Take the skeins out of the soak bath, and gently wring out as much water as you can. Lay the skein on top of the cling wrap you have prepared.
5. Go ahead and apply the dye. Flip the skein over occasionally to make sure the dye gets to all parts of the section you are doing. You can use squirt bottle, or sponge brushes, but I have found plastic spoons to work well, too. I will occasionally blot extra liquid up with an old towel if I need to.
6. When you have the dye applied to your satisfaction, wrap it up well in the cling wrap. I lay plastic wrap on top of the skein, too to make sure that the different colors don't bleed where I don't want them. I also put the wraps into individual plastic bags for further security.
7. You now will steam your wraps. I have a wire rack that fits in the bottom of my dyepot. I'll put a few inches of water in the bottom, then lay my bundles on top of the rack. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and steam for 45 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure your water doesn't boil away!
8. COOL THE BUNDLES BEFORE YOU OPEN THEM! I'll take them out of the dyepot (carefully) and lay them outside until they're cool to the touch. Then you can wash with a bit of synthrapol, and then rinse, making sure you don't shock the yarn by extreme changes in water temperatures. Hang to dry.
9. Make sure that all your equipment is for dyeing only, and never use dye equipment for food prep. (duh!) Some people use a microwave to steam their rolls, which takes less time, but I don't want to use my kitchen microwave, so I haven't tried this. Some people also use crock pots, but again make sure they're not used for food prep if you do this.