Snow-dyeing yarn

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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.

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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.

Disclaimer:  I work with Dharma acid dyes and Dharma fibre reactive dyes, and I don’t know how to dye yarn with other dyes.  Also, Dharma did not pay me for this post.  🙂

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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