Painting Silk Yarn

I wanted to share a little bit of what is going to be happening in my studio this weekend.  I'm painting silk yarn.  Wonderful, luxurious, can't-stop-touching-it silk yarn.

I like to paint silk yarn with brushes — I tend to "pounce" the paint into the yarn, a bit like stenciling, rather than stroking it on the yarn.

I pad my table out with newspapers and old beach towels, then I paint directly on top of the plastic wrap I use for batching the yarn.  With less absorbent wool fibers, I paint on a rack over one of my big marbling trays, but the silk wicks the dye so quickly, that painting directly on the plastic wrap works very well here.

Although I'm using a large sponge brush in the picture, I prefer my soft bristle brushes, which seem to give me more control over where the color is going.

In addition to pure silk, this weekend I'm working with some silk/linen and silk/cotton blends — enough to jump start a little bit of summer knitting.  I love how all of these fibers take color, so it's bound to be lots of fun.  In the pictured yarn, I have started with some extremely concentrated jewel tones, and balanced them out with an very pale robin's egg blue.


Here I am stroking the dye on — you can see how that leaves white patches behind.  Pouncing the brush gently up and down to push the dye into the fibers is a much more effective technique.


The first skeins will batch overnight and on into mid-afternoon out in the sun.  I've painted these yarns with Procion Mx dyes, so they batch at room temperature, without steam heat.  I'll follow that process with the silk/cotton blend yarn pictured here and probably with the silk/linen yarn as well.  For the pure silk, I'll return to acid dyes, and steam the yarn after painting to set the color.

Pictures of the finished yarn tomorrow or Sunday.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

4 thoughts on “Painting Silk Yarn

  1. Well, I never knew you could paint yarn – cool! Your colors are lovely and I look forward to seeing the finished results!

  2. Stunning! I love silk and silk blend yarns, and it’s good to see you working with them! I can’t wait to see the end result when the dying is over and then what you create with your beautiful knitting!

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