An ounce of prevention…

…is worth a pound of cure.

That’s what I was telling myself yesterday as I sat untangling yarn. If you noticed in my last post about dyeing yarn, I briefly mentioned that the Cascade 128 yarn had gotten tangled during the dyeing process.

I may have underestimated how bad it was.

After allowing the yarn to dry over night, I woke up to the beautiful sight of the reddish-pink yarn practically glowing in the sunlight. I was ready to wind it into balls and cast on… something. I hadn’t actually selected a project yet, but I wouldn’t let that slow me down (too much).

I remembered that the yarn was tangled,  and had attempted to remedy that last night, to no success. I thought it might be easier once it was dry.

I sat down with the first hank of yarn and started untangling. I ended up with the hank around my neck while watching Montana Sky (a very cheesy Lifetime adaptation of a Nora Robert’s novel that I only like because I find the actor John Corbett so charming).  After maybe 15 minutes I gave up and decided that it was good enough to throw on the swift and started winding. After a few initial tangles, it was good to go. One down!

The second skein was a whole other issue. I spent probably 20 minutes untangling on the couch without making much headway. I got frustrated and put it on the swift the best I could. It was a big mess with strands hanging down in all directions. Winding on the ball winder was out of the question. I ended up spending another 40 minutes painstakingly winding by hand: inch by tangled inch. I could wrap more than a few inches without having to fix a significant snare.

Had this dyeing attempt come out slightly less likeable, I would’ve given up. Had the yarn been cheaper, I would’ve given up. Had the yarn not been so incredibly fluffy and soft or had there been more than 128 yards in the hank, I would’ve given up. But, darn it, I loved the cheery pinks and reds, and the silky fluff of this yarn and I was determined to fix the problem. My perseverance paid off and I ended up with two perfectly wound balls of my own colorful creation.

Here’s where the prevention should’ve come in.

When I untwisted the hanks I realized they were only tied in one place. In my experience, commercially produced yarn typically has three or four ties keeping the hank nice and orderly.

In doing my mini-hanks of Cestari (for the rainbow dye job), I did two ties, and those were really small. So I’m not sure why it never registered to be that I should maybe possibly probably  definitely add a few more ties to keep things in order. That simple act would’ve saved me close to two hours of untangling and winding. The other thing that would’ve helped would have been to tie the hanks in an acrylic yarn (that wouldn’t pick up dye) so the ties would be easy to spot and remove.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.


That being said, I did cast on, and nearly finish, the rainbow hat for Baby Roman (or his sister, if it turns out too big) from the Kool-Aid yarn. So that will be coming soon.


Dessert Yarn: Part 2 – The Process

After my last Dessert Yarn post, I learned that Kool-Aid is actually better than Jell-O for dyeing with because it comes in small, sugar-free packets in a variety of bright shades. I realize now that Kool-Aid may have been what I originally heard of this process being done with, and I just got mixed up.

Researching the process got me all excited and I was determined to start my yarn dyeing project almost immediately. So I decided to rush around after work and make all the preparations. This included going to Madtosh in Fort Worth to look for undyed yarn because I know they have a section of it there. (I’ll leave out my grousing over the terrible traffic en route and my own terrible navigating). They didn’t have the weight I wanted at easy reach and I was trying to hurry to get out the door before they closed. I did get some Cascade 128 (which is a chunky yarn) to try out.

Cascade 128 Yarn

Cascade 128 Yarn

My next stop was to Jennings Street Yarn (just down the road for Madtosh) to get a replacement for my broken Dreamz needle and to pick up my new Nova set (YAY!). I decided to check out what they had as far as dyeable yarn and picked up a skein of worsted weight.

Cestari Traditional Collection. 100% Wool

Cestari Traditional Collection.
100% Wool

Then I trekked back to Arlington to hit the grocery store for dinner supplies and, of course, a trillion Kool-Aid packets. I wanted to do rainbow shades so I found myself in the Wal-Mart isle having to ask myself “what Kool-Aid flavor is indigo?”.

So much Kool-Aid

So much Kool-Aid

I won’t post a full tutorial of how to dye with Kool-Aid here because there are already some fantastic posts out there about it. I used the following two for reference.

Dyeing with Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn

I mixed each color into a disposable bowl and put roughly a seventh of the Cestari yarn into each bowl, then nuked them in the microwave.


Bowls of Kool-Aid Dye.
Cherry Red, Peach Mango Orange, Lemonade Yellow, Lemon-Lime Green, Mixed Berry Blue, Mixed Berry/Grape Indigo, Grape Violet

I got pretty good at sectioning off an ounce and a half (the yarn is wet, so this isn’t really accurate) on the food scale and winding it into a mini-skein during the two minutes that the previous bowl was heating.

Makeshift swift

Makeshift swift

Yarn or spaghetti?

Yarn or spaghetti?

Then the yarn was rinsed and set out to dry .


Drying Yarn

For now, here’s a list of random things about my dyeing process:

  • Did I dye my hands? Almost immediately 
  • Was there cat hair in the dye? Of course
  • I was the most happy with the Cherry yarn and how the color came out so rich
  • I was least happy with the grape and indigo. Both are a little dingy and the indigo didn’t pick up the blue and purple evenly.
  • The tutorial said that the water would turn clear as the yarn soaked up the dye and I didn’t believe it… but it really does!
  • O’Malley was really fascinated by my temporary chair swift and watching the yarn unwind.
  • The funniest part of the evening is when Cullen attempted to leap onto the table as it was covered in bowls of dye and I panicked and tried to block him.
  • He managed to land gracefully in an empty spot… but then knocked one over just walking past it.
  • While the yarn set, I did the dishes, cleaned the kitchen, and wrote the post. 🙂

Additionally, I decided to dye the Cascade using a dip dye method.

Testing colors

Testing colors

This was far more complicated than the other process. It didn’t come out exactly how I wanted but I think it’s pretty. I had to dip a portion of the hank into a Pyrex pan of one dye color, nuke, rinse, then start over with another color. Finally, I dunked both hanks into a “wash” of Cherry Red.

Overall, the affect was nice, except I totally tangled the two hanks of Cascade.


Left to right:
Pink Lemonade, Strawberry Kiwi, Watermelon, Strawberry, Cherry, Black Cherry

Dessert Yarn

A year ago or so, I learned you can dye natural fiber yarn using Jello-o mix. I’m incredibly intrigued by this idea. My thought is to buy a hefty skein of undyed wool, divide it into a few small hanks, and dye each with a different color. Then knit it into a silly striped baby hat.
Although, maybe it would be smarter to leave it as one hank and just stripe it with the dye?

This thought seems to fit my weird desire to make rainbow colored things lately. I checked out a knitting book from the library (Classic Knits) and the only pattern I cared for was a rainbow mohair scarf. I don’t see myself ever wearing a rainbow scarf, but I’d really like to make one. By the way, it is a rather lovely book with lots of helpful information and plenty of basic patterns, it just didn’t catch my eye.

I also want to crochet some rainbow, crocodile stitch, baby booties that I downloaded.

Maybe I’m just needing some cheery color in my life.