How to dye blanks

If you are reading this I’ll presume that you know how to dye yarn. If you don’t there are many good books, courses and internet tutorials to show you how.

You will need:

• A knitted blank
• Dyes
• Rubber/latex free gloves
• An old bath towel
• A waterproof table covering
• Blocking pins
• Dye applicators, such as a paintbrush, sponge applicator, applicator bottles or turkey baster
• Food wrap, such as cling film

The dyes you need depend on the fibre content of the yarn you are using. If you are using animal fibre yarn such as sheep wool you can use acid dyes, food colouring or even powered drink sachets such as Kool Aid. If you are using plant fibre yarn such as cotton you need to use the appropriate dyes such as Procion MX.

Prepare your dyes in the same way as if you were hand painting a skein of yarn. Prepare the blank in the same way too. The blank needs to be damp but not dripping so soak the blank in warm water and synthrapol or a drop of washing up liquid then remove the excess moisture by either rolling it in a towel or putting it on a slow spin in a spin dryer or washing machine.

Set up your dyeing area, cover your work surface with a waterproof table covering, lay the old towel folded double on top and pin our your blank with blocking pins with the purl side facing upwards (the ridges of the purl side help you make straight lines when dyeing horizontal stripes). Prepare your dyes and apply them according the pattern you want to achieve. To ensure even coverage you can use your fingers to massage the colour into the blank. The towel will soak up an excess dye and help prevent colour runs.

Fix the dye as you would a skein of hand painted yarn. Roll it and wrap it in food wrap and set the dye in the microwave or a steamer.

Top Tips

• You can mark out patterns on your blank by stitching the lines in waste yarn. Acrylic yarn is ideal for this as it won’t absorb the dye and get lost in the pattern.
• Slide a broom handle or dowel rod under the blank to raise it up to prevent the colours bleeding.