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Drip Dyeing

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If you only have tiny amounts of different coloured dyes left over from previous projects, you can still dye rovings that spin up into softly heathered variegated yarns using the drip dye technique.

You will need:

Premixed dyes (mix them according to the instructions that come with your brand of dye).
Plastic wrap
Syringes, small squirt bottles or old teaspoons
Dishwashing liquid
Rubber gloves, apron etc to keep yourself clean :-)

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1: First, soak your roving/sliver in water with a small amount of dishwashing detergent for at least half an hour.

2: Spin out the excess water and lay the roving down onto some microwave proof sandwich wrap.

3: Squirt dye onto your damp roving using a syringe or squirt bottle. The sample on the left is dyed with Ashford brown, teal, yellow, purple and scarlet.

4: Wrap in plastic and press the air out as much as possible. This will also encourage the dye to soak into your roving and run together to create many subtle variations of colour

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5: Set the dye by microwaving your yarn for 2 minutes, then leave for 2 minutes and repeat two or three times more (leaving it to cool down completely after the final heating). Make sure that the plastic wrap you have used is microwave safe before heating.

Check after each time you heat your yarn. If it has dried, don't heat it again (and don't microwave yarns with a metallic thread or core!)


You can use a slit open oven bag instead of glad wrap and heat your painted yarn/fibre in your oven for 1/2 an hour at 100 degrees Celsius.

I separated my roving into strips and spun it quite finely,

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then plied it with white to make a softly coloured fingering weight yarn (approximately 3 ply).

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This image shows the same dye technique used on a small skein of hand spun yarn...
and the dyed skein knit into a swatch. As you can see, drip dyeing a spun skein of yarn makes a variegated yarn with very short lengths of colour. This is a great way to make sure that you'll never have problems with colour-pooling.

Copyright Sarah Bradberry. All rights reserved.

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