26 February 2015

15 Inches of Dye

drip dye

When you're trying to train for a 450-mile cross-state bicycle ride and the weather does nothing but pound you with snow, might as well get some color going!

22 inches were forecast; we had 15 after the first 36 hours. Not quite the Storm of the Century predicted, but still enough for another round of snow-dyeing!

Five hanks of cotton yarn were prepared for dyeing (hanked and then mordanted), then a hank of cotton thread, two yards of cotton fabric, and finally, one hank of wool yarn. This would be my first time using snow to dye wool, as well as my first time ever trying fiber-reactive dyes on wool. The dye process for wool is completely different than for cotton, so my efforts with the wool were experimental. Didn't know what to expect, and didn't really care how it turned out, as long as the wool didn't felt (shrink and coagulate). (The wool turned out just fine!)

cotton fabric, ready for snow

cotton yarn, ready for snow

snowed in

I was hoping for lavender and violet this time around; the color broke once again, which is one of the magic aspects of snow-dyeing, so initially not the color I envisioned after the snow melted, but still not bad. Four of the cotton yarn hanks are to return kindness to friends who helped me through various difficulties, and I thought they'd each be happy with the results.

first time snow-dyeing wool yarn



such color

snow-dyed yarn

This time, I did an entire 415-yard skein of size 10 Baroque crochet thread instead of winding it into individual 100- or 150-yard hanks. I decided I want enough of one colorway to make something besides snowflakes. Especially if I like the finished color.

snow-dyed thread

The wool is totally different in color from the cotton, but I think it turned out great. I think this will knit up beautifully!

wool snow-dye

snow-dyed wool

Then came the washing stage. Eek. Sometimes washing is the make or break in dyeing. I'd been doing only natural dyeing for most of the last 18 months. You don't use hot heat in natural dyeing; it messes up the colors, typically resulting in standard grays and browns. Not fun after experiencing color heaven.

This was my first time using professional dyes in quite a while, and I mistakenly applied the natural dye washing rules to the cotton instead of the professional dye washing rules. Professional dyes need heat to set.

My cold cotton color did not set.

Darn it.

gorgeous fuchsia

pale pink

Fortunately, I still like the faded pastel pink, and I can always overdye if necessary. I also learned a much-needed lesson and hopefully will not need to relearn it. With 16 more inches on the way and yet another winter storm in the extended forecast, I want to take another stab at lavender and violet, without so much color break this time, if possible. Reducing color break in snow- or shaving cream-dyeing is a challenge, and challenge is one of the dyeing aspects I apparently enjoy. I keep trying again and again and again...

Meanwhile, this pastel pink might work very nicely for me and my friends, each who've had personal close calls with breast cancer, actual breast cancer, or loved ones facing close calls or the real thing. Pink is always sentimental in my neck of the high plains meets foothills.



vanilla strawberry

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Wow, that still is a ton of snow. Glad we didn't get that storm. Got a lot done too, I guess the snow is good for something at least

    1. Snow is good for lots of things, Pat, particularly moisture in the mountains. I can live with it for that, if nothing else. But I also love to cross-country ski and take pictures of snowy scenes. I just don't care to drive in it. :)

  2. I love the variety of outcomes from snow dying.

    1. Me, too, Lizard. Maybe I can get some more done this weekend... I don't think it will all melt away by then!

  3. So beautiful. What have you the idea of snow dying?

    1. Wow, Di, I'm not sure. I probably saw what someone else did with it, so I had to try it myself. I'd tried shaving cream dyeing about 10 or 11 years ago after seeing that somewhere; my attempt didn't work well at all because I knew nothing about dyeing back then. So I probably carried over a lot of curiosity when I saw someone else's lovely ice or snow-dyeing. I'll bet I wrote about it in my journal somewhere...

  4. I've seen some snow dyeing results before but your explanation is the best I've read. Hope you have fun the next time, too.

    1. Thanks, Ann! I may be trying again today. We have PLENTY of snow to work with!

  5. But isn't it fun to see the colour at all? Even if it fades? This was a gorgeous post visually, and some of the shots made me think of blackberries and raspberries in the snow. The wool yarn is truly lovely, and the delicate pinks are very pretty. Looking forward to what you come up with next time around!

    1. Thank you, Sue! Yes, it is truly fun to see the intense colors and then the pastels when all is done. And in a sense, this is better than natural dyeing because the results are a little more controllable. I sort of flunked this game, but the next one came out just fine! (Story and photos next week!)

  6. P.S. I envy you all that snow. We need more. Can you send 10 or 15 inches our way?

    1. There were some scooper trucks downtown today, moving the snow they don't have room to pile up anymore elsewhere. I could ask them to drive some up to you... :)


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