There are many, many ways to dye a yarn: immersion, hand-painting, dipping, to think of the most popular ones. All of them can be done any time of year.
However, snow-dyeing is, obviously, tied to a particular season – when we have snow.
Snow-dyeing is one of the most unpredictable methods of dyeing in terms of the results – I never know what comes out. But to me is part of the attraction – as it allows me to go outside of my box, let me try something new without following the same dye application techniques and same aesthetic looks.
So, here is how I do it. First, you need to have plenty of clean snow, preferably fresh. We in Nova Scotia have lots of snow storms in February – March, which makes it a perfect season for a snow-dye fun.
Have your yarn in skeins, and soak it in appropriate dye fix. For cotton, cottolin, cottohemp it is a solution of soda ash, or washing soda (not baking soda). For silk – solution of vinegar. I intentionally don’t give the proportions of those dye fixes, as I recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions and adjust for your water, if needed. I leave the yarn in soda ash solution for 2-3 hours, and silk – for an hour. Rinse the skeins, as you don’t want them dripping, and put them in the container where you add snow. I use the stainless steel sink in the washing room – don’t use your kitchen sink for the reasons of safety. I keep the sink unplugged, so the skeins are not swimming in the melting snow.
I usually do a quick test on a paper towel to see how the dyes will blend – but it is optional. Fill the sink with snow, packing it slightly. And then, wearing your protective mask, sprinkle the dyes. After experimenting, I concluded that I get better results with more snow and less dye. Use the right dyes for your yarn – acid dyes for silk and fibre reactive ones for cotton, linen, and hemp.
Almost immediately the dye starts to dissolve. By the way, don’t let pets of children eat this coloured snow – it is poisonous, even if it looks like candies.
The snow keeps melting, and the dyes look more and more diluted. This is the look after 8 hours in the sink. I let the yarn sit for 20-24 hours after applying dyes, even if the snow melts midway.
If you used fibre reactive dyes, just rinse the skeins until water runs clear. With acid dyes, fix the dye with your preferred method of applying heat before you rinse – whether it is an oven, a microwave or a steamer. Then rinse, let it dry and enjoy.