Saturday, February 13, 2010

Painted darlings

There are lots of techniques out there for embellishing your amis... but after getting into hand dying my own yarn, I thought it might be time to get into some more delicate procedures. Painting (or "strategic dying" as I like to think of it) is great for anything from rosy cheeks to tiger stripes, but since you're painting on your finished objects it can be a scary task the first few times through. Here are the steps I take to get just the look I want...

Start by crocheting a practice piece in the color you will use in your finished piece. I like to use 100% wool which means I can use either acid dyes or (less dangerous, more practical) food dyes.

Get set up: you will only need a small amount of pigment, mixed with [3 parts water, 1 part vinegar] in a non reactive container (plastic, glass, etc.). A nylon watercolor brush (I prefer medium round brushes with a point) and a waste towel for cleaning your brush. Paper towels work great for blotting excess water and color, so you'll want a few of those on hand as well.

If your looking to get a soft edge on your painting (like in a rosy cheek) wet the area to be painted thoroughly, then with the paint brush drop/dab on color in small amounts, and blot as needed. If you've saturated the wool your color should blend and bleed naturally. Continue to add color until you have the desired shade. Lastly, and this is optional, get out your hairdryer and set the color by drying on the warm setting. If you don't want to blow dry, air drying will work to but I can't vouch for the colorfastness.

For a sharper edge, follow the same steps as above, but don't bother pre-moistening your wool. Just go right on with the dye, layering the color untill you have the desired shade. Think of this as a sort of water color technique, building up the layers of color in small increments.

This technique is featured in my latest collection "Darlings", and really I hope you get a chance to try it out! -Dawn.


  1. I just read the article in "Stuffed" vol 3 issue 1 & I just wanted to tell you how much I love your creations!!
    How interesting!!

  2. I've just joined Esty in order to buy a couple of your patterns. Many of the recent views of your site...that would be me talking myself into (or out of!) this for several days.
    Cannot wait to try Nicolette soon :)

    Now what is this "Stuffed" article - newly hooked on crochet person wants to know?!

  3. Thanks! my Nicolette and Elizabeth were both in the magazine, though I have to say I was not totally happy with the experience... I thought the photos would have a little more life, and then they got my location wrong. Anyway, I got them back and all's well!