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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snow Dye

They say if you want to be happy in a northern climate you need to find something you love to do in the snow.  I've finally found it!  Snow Dyeing!  It's so much fun to unpack the dyed yarn or fabric and see what random beauty nature has provided. 

I first heard about snow dyeing last spring when it was almost too late but, knowing Montana, I knew I had a pretty good chance of a heavy, late spring snow storm.  I was right!  April 19, I looked out my window and what did I see?

6 inches of snow on my adirondacks!!  Sweet!  I had gathered all my supplies just in case, so I was ready!

What you need:
Wool yarn or fabric (or other animal fiber, such as silk, llama, alpaca, etc.)
Plastic wrap
Plastic tub
Acid Dye (don't worry, the acid part refers to the vinegar you need to fix the dye)

For instructions on how to snow dye plant fibers, such as cotton, linen, etc., click here.  You will need an alkaline fixative and a dye suited for plant fibers.

The Method:

Soak your yarn or fabric in a solution of vinegar and water - 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water - for about 30 minutes, pushing it down into the water to thoroughly saturate the fiber.  Allow most of the water to drain off the yarn and pack it in one layer in the bottom of a rubber or plastic tub.

Pack snow tightly on top of the yarn about 4 inches deep. 

Sprinkle your dye lightly over the snow.  

I used Jacquard Acid Dye:  Golden Yellow, Saphire Blue, and Crimson.

Bring your tub in the house - hopefully it is watertight and has no cracks! - and let the snow melt. When the snow is melted (hopefully overnight), lift your yarn out of the tub and let the excess water drain out.  Don't let it drip onto the yarn in the tub; hold it over a sink or another bucket.  Wrap the yarn in plastic wrap.  (You don't need to unskein it, as in the picture below, just wrap it up the same way you had it in the tub.)


Place wrapped yarn in one layer in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes.

Rinse the yarn and hang it up to dry.

When your yarn is dry (1-2 days), you can twist it back into a skein for storage or wind it into a ball for immediate use.  The skeins on the left were originally teal, and the ones on the right were a rather drab yellow. 

I love my snow dyed yarn!  I especially love the burnt looking spot on that rather plump teal skein.  That side was down in the tub and sat in a pool of dye.  It's so unpredictable and beautiful!  Here's what one of the yellow yarns looks like knit up in a little stockinette hat. 

It's really incredible how many colors you get just from red, yellow and blue. 

Now as the weather is turning to fall, go find yourself something to love about the cold months ahead!

1 comment:

  1. very nice. doesn't snow in Florida but it came out very nice.