Dyeing Yarn in Balls

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Ramblings

There was some talk about this on Ravelry in the “Love to Dye” group.  I’d bought this pink yarn (and you know how I feel about pink), a 100% cashmere from Filatura di Crosa called “Hyrcus,” on clearance, intending to overdye it, so this seemed like as good a test as any.  Unfortunately, as you’ll see in the final results, these commercial “ball-cakes” (or whatever you want to call them) don’t really result in a dye style all that much different from my usual.


The pan is filled with water and acid prior to putting the yarn in.



Here, the dye (Jacquard’s “Spruce”) is in the pan, and the dry balls of yarn are floating on top. I left them for two hours to absorb as much dye and water as possible.


The Spruce dye is exhausted and has soaked about halfway into the ball. Now it’s time to make a new color (Jac’s “Chestnut”), flip the balls, and soak them.


The Chestnut has been added to the pan. You can see the color difference between the yarn and the liquid.


I missed taking a photo of the final few steps.  When the Chestnut was exhausted, I used a squirt bottle to squirt Jacquard’s “Olive” into the center of each ball, and let it sit for an hour.  Then I nuked it according to my usual schedule.  When it was done, I washed in Synthrapol, rinsed clear, and re-skeined so that the air would circulate better and it would not rot.


Here we see the reskeined balls lying in a pile after completely drying. (The yellow you see is just the ties at the ends of the skein.) It gave a very broken effect; the sections of each color aren’t more than about 3″ long.


For comparison, here are some skeins I did with the same colors, with the more standard method of dyeing in the skein. I’d have to knit with them both to get a true comparison, but looking at them side by side the ball dye is a little more broken – but not much.


In the end, I’ve decided that dyeing in a commercial ball form is not worth it for “dye effects” (mostly because reskeining them when wet was a huge nuisance), but it might be good to overdye to a solid color, just to get it to something usable.  I’d never have knit with pink for my own purposes.







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