Knitting Community

I dyed my first sock blank with Jacquard acid dye. I colored the blank (I made it myself with Bare Stroll Sport) with the dye solution at he recommended strength. When it was all colored I sprayed it with vinegar and wrapped it in plastic wrap. I steamed it in a pot with a lid for 30 minutes. I waited for it to cool and rinsed in lukewarm water. I didn't see any extra dye wash out at this point. I knitted  a pair of socks right off the blank. When the socks were finished they were a little crinkled so I washed them in the sink with a little soap, and I was astonished and disappointed to see blue dye in the water. This is not supposed to happen, is it? What did I do wrong? More importantly, what can I do to make them colorfast? Heat again??

This is a picture of my finished blank followed by a picture of the finished socks. By the way, I used Navy Stroll Sport for the toes and heels.

Views: 883

Replies to This Discussion

Ramona, Very true... those Jacquared Dyes go a long way.  for 4 oz. of roving I only use about 1/8 - 1/4 tsp...

hey donna - your socks turned out beautifully. i do like the color but i understand your frustration. susan has given you some great advice. i'm a frequent yarn/fiber dyer as well and this happens to all of us at some point or another.

if you using a direct-dye application (like squeeze bottles or paint brush), you can try soaking the yarn in a vinegar-water solution for at least 30 mins. since you're spraying vinegar onto the yarn itself, rather than soaking in the vinegar solution, the yarn might not be exposed to the vinegar long enough for the color to penetrate the fibers.

after you take the yarn out of the vinegar solution and squeeze out some of the water, you can start dyeing with just the jacquard dye solution (no need to add vinegar).  you can always 'test' a portion of the dye solution on the yarn to see if you are using too much dye. put a little bit on a small part of the yarn and see if the water that runs out underneath is relatively clear. if it's holding too much dye (water running underneath is really colored), then try diluting your dye solution with more water. it's a tricky balance but you'll get it. jacquard dyes are pretty reliable and if i'm dyeing only one color, i use about the same as susan about 1/4-1/2t in 16-20oz of water for 4oz of yarn.  i also rinse in hot tap water.

let us know if you have any other questions.

good luck! ~christina


Do you mean soaking the sock blank in a vinegar water solution before beginning to 'paint' it?  Would you then use 3 Tbsp per 100 gr yarn?

Do you heat the yarn blank to 180 degrees and figure that it's done, or do you hold it at that temp for 30 mins.? I used a thermometer to test the temp of my rolled up sock blank by putting the stem in the center of the roll. It was too hot to hold the thermometer over the pot so I had to take it out and then put it back in when I realized that it wasn't hot enough.

I noticed that washing the yarn in soapy water makes more color come out. Is this normal?

Thanks for your advice, and thanks in advance for tackling any more questions!

Hi Donna -

Yes! Soak the blank in vinegar/water before painting it. I use about 1 cup for 6-8 pieces of 100g yarn/fiber in a big bucket of water. I'm not sure what the math is for 1-100gr piece (probably ok with 3 tbs).

I steam set for about 30 minutes (I use one of those veggie steamers in a big pot and put the plastic wrapped yarn in there with the lid on). You will need consistent heat for about 30 mins for the color to set, so get the steam going in your pot, THEN put the yarn in. The yarn should be really hot when it comes out - you'll need gloves to get it out.

I suggest getting a dye book for reference. This is one that I have and it's on sale on KP now:


Here is a blog that another dyer did using easter egg dyes: method she uses is similar to mine.

A little bit of color might release in the rinse but not a whole lot if the color is set. Sounds like your color needs to be set, so try the vinegar bath for at least 30 mins, then steam set for 30 mins.

If your color is not set, you can overdye by repeating the process: 1) soak in vinegar/water for 30 mins 2) paint 3) steam set for 30 mins. 4) cool completely 5) rinse.

Hope this helps!


It sounds logical -- I will give it a try, and take a look at the book.

Many thanks!

OK...I'm going to chime in here, Donna.  I've been a dyer since 1980 and have had nearly everything awful happen to me that can happen <G>. It's all part of your learning journey.  You've added enough acid to your pot, but you haven't let it have enough time at the right temperature to set the dye properly.  One of the things about using levelling acid dyes is that if you don't do it right the first time, it can reverse on you and I think that's what's been happening.  The next thing is that you've used far too much dye.  3 TBSP of dye will dye pounds of fiber.  Your poor little socks just had too much dye on them and there weren't enough dye sites left to accept it all.  The other thing is that you might just leave them in water overnight and see if you can't get some of the excess dye out that way rather than wasting so much water.  Once you start getting just a bit of dye out, start wearing the socks (if you wear them with too much unattached dye in them, you'll have blue feet!) and just wash them by themselves for a while until the excess dye molecules move out.

It's been a great learning experience, though, don't you think?  I'm sorry I didn't see your post earlier...I was getting my stuff together to teach a dye class <LOL>.  How are the socks now?


Hi Annette, and thank you very much for your input.

The 3 Tbsp we were mentioning was vinegar, but you are probably right about too much dye. I was following the Knit Picks tutorial for dyeing sock blanks. I mixed up stock solutions of 1 tsp dye powder per 2 cups water for each of the three colors I used. I didn't really take note of how much dye solution I used on the sock blank though. By rights I suppose it should have been no more than 2 cups. (100 gram sock blank). And I just sprayed vinegar on when I was finished painting it. Probably not enough. And I probably didn't have the temperature high enough for long enough.

I ended up soaking them in a fairly strong vinegar/water solution and reheating them. I still had a little dye coming out but I have been wearing them and washing them by themselves for a couple of times and the amount of dye bleeding out is definitely less. 

I tried a second sock blank a few weeks later and apparently made the some of same mistakes, although I know I used less than 2 cups of stock solution this time. It bled like crazy. I think I used enough vinegar that time ; maybe I didn't have the temp high enough. I thought that if the water was just steaming it would be hot enough. I guess it really needs to boil.

I am going to try again though.


Sorry not to be online a lot.  Life just sort of gets in the way.  Definitely your heat should be high and you should be steaming it for close to an hour.  Then let it cool on its own.  Don't hurry the cooling down process.  It's imperative for lightfastness and washfastness.  I use a bamboo steamer that I bought at a Chinese restaurant supply place.  It has a couple of layers, so I layer them both full, bring up the temperature of the water to boiling, then turn the hotplate to about medium.  Keep checking that there's enough water in for that hour though.  You sure don't want it to boil dry <G>.  Have you tried again yet?

Yes, I decided to go pastel (less dye), used plenty of vinegar, and had the water under the steamer boiling. I didn't have a large amount of dye this time so I guess that was some of the problem. I actually went a little too light on the dye, the back of the dye blank (which I forgot to look at before heating) had some really pale places. Oh well, it was pastels. I started knitting sock toes with it and the white places look OK.

That encouraged me and I decided to immersion dye some yarn a plain color. Darn, I messed up again. The book I was going by said fill my pot 2/3rds full of water and add 1 cup vinegar. I was only dying 30 grams of yarn so I figured 1/2 cup was enough. Wrong, I guess. (It was a LARGE pot!) The yarn was bleeding copiously. So I have ordered pH test strips to make sure the acidity of the dye solution is down to 4. I am going to try again after the pH test strips arrive.

I am attaching a photo of the pastel dye blank.

I used 5 Tbsp of the standard dye stock (mixed at 1/2 tsp dye per cup of water) -- about equivalent to 1/8 tsp dye powder.
OK... you are still using too much dye powder... I use about 1/8 - 1/4 tsp for 100 grams of yarn or fiber... that is still why you are getting so much bleeding. 
I got my figures from the Knit Picks Jacquard Acid Tutorial which says to use 1 tsp of dye powder and 3 Tbsp of vinegar for 100 grams of yarn. My mixed up solution has 1 tsp of dye per 2 cups of water, so I figured 1/3 of a cup (5 Tbsp is a little less than that) of dye solution would be enough for 30 grams of yarn  -- maybe a little too much.


Introducing Galileo!

Dazzling, brilliant colors inspired by the night sky and a sheen that shimmers like the stars.


50% Merino Wool, 50% Bamboo. Sport weight. Just $4.99/50g!

Shop now »

New Chroma Colors!

Choose bright and bold or subtle, gentle waves of color: Chroma is a gorgeously soft wool single-ply with just a dash of nylon.


Just $9.99/100g.


Shop now »

Dreamy Tonal Colors

Gorgeous and surprising colorways to feed your creativity.

Starting at just $6.59/50g.

Shop now »

© 2016   Created by Knit Picks Admin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service