My thanks to Shirley, from whom I buy my undyed sock yarn, who told me about this dyeing method. This is my first attempt using this method.......and I like the results. I hope you find this post interesting and informative. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions. I had more "fussing" with the yarn using this method, but I so like the results, I feel it is worth the extra effort.
The sock yarn that I buy comes in skein form, so I had to wind it from my yarn swift onto my Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder. Coming from the skein, I could only wind it "single strand", so after it was done that way, I had to re-wind it again, pulling the single strand from both the outside AND the inside, so I ended up with a double strand ball of yarn. I needed a double strand so that when it was dyed, the 2 strands dyed similarly, which would give me socks that looked similar. If I'd dyed the ball as a single strand ball, the 2 socks would have been VERY different, as you will see in a later photo.
The ball is then laid on its side in the dye pot. The dye bath water level was brought up to the center of the ball. I started out with the darkest dye bath, Black, but I think next time I use this method (probably today), I will begin by using the lightest of my chosen dyes.
The dye bath was heated and allowed to simmer until the dye was "exhausted" or taken up into the yarn and the water returned to clear.
Next dye bath used was Brown. The yarn ball was turned to allow the brown to dye another section of the undyed yarn.
After following the same process as the black, and the water was clear after the brown dye, I added Sky Blue dye and turned the ball for the last time, covering the rest of the undyed yarn.
Here is the dyed ball draining in the sink. I did let it drain until it was cool enough to handle without burning my fingers, then "lightly" squeezed it to get some of the excess water out. I wanted it dry enough to be able to wind it back up into skein form so that it would dry easier and quicker.
My skein winder ready wind the ball back into skein form. The ball still held a fair amount of water, thus the towel and it sitting in a bowl.
The dried skein. As you can see, there is a wide range in dye intensity. What happens is the yarn closer to the outside of the ball soaks up more of the dye than the inner ball, creating a blend from dark to light. The "blend" will be easier to see in the following photos.
Once again, the skein had to be wound into ball form. It was still double strand and had to be divided into 2 balls of single strand, prior to being wound onto a cone for knitting on the CSM (circular sock machine). The following photo shows how light the colors were from the center of the dyed ball.
My set up for unwinding 1 ball and turning it into 2 balls of similar size.
I had to sit and pull a length of yarn from the lower ball, separating the 2 yarn strands, then wind those singles into ball form. It was a slow process but surprisingly, it worked quite well. As the yarn was pulled from the lower ball, it twisted and could have been a problem, but patience was the key to my success. The twists relaxed as they were pulled higher away from the ball, and any yarn that twisted back onto itself, only needed a slight pull to undo and separate. As I said, it was a long process, but an uncomplicated one.........done slowly. Hopefully, history will repeat itself when I next do it. ;)
The 2 single strand balls, still connected. I left them connected as I planned on weighing them to get a total weight, then singly, so that I could unwind some yarn from one to the other, if needed, to even them out.
Total weight was 94 grams.......
When weighing each ball, they each came to 48 grams. They had separated evenly so I did not need to do any adding or subtracting of yarn. Yes, I know that 94 divided by 2 is 47, but neither ball showed any variation when weighed. I'm sure a better scale would have been more accurate, but this is what I have.........
After cutting the yarn, I then used my Silver Needles Cone Winder to transfer the yarn from ball form onto a cone. I wound 1 cone, beginning with the outside yarn of the original dyed ball, and the 2nd cone, beginning with the inside yarn from the original dyed ball. As I mentioned earlier, there is quite a difference in how much dye got to the center versus the outside of the ball.
I decided that I wanted to have the darker yarn as the top of my socks, so re-wound the lighter cone.
The finished pair of socks shows the blending from the outside darker yarn to the less dyed center. As I said earlier, I am pleased with the results and look forward to trying this method again. Hopefully, I will be as successful with the process as I was this first time, and not have to say it was all "beginners luck".