Welcome to the second installment of my Hand Dyed Yarn for Newbies series! I hope the first post was interesting and potentially useful. In case you didn’t see it, you can find the first post on Solids here. Sorry there was such delay between posts, I had a busy week last week. I will endeavour to get these posts out more regularly from here on in.
Semi-solid yarns are usually of one dye colour or layers of similar coloured dyes to give various tones of the same colour over the skein. It is one of my most favourite ways to dye yarn. Semi-solids can also be referred to as tonals; however, tonals can also be a version of variegated. As such, tonals will have a post of their own.
An example of a semi-solid or tonal: MyMuddlings ‘Be Still My Beating Heart’ on DK
As you can see in the above picture, I have created a colourway that is just one colour (a pinky red), but there are varying tones from light to dark. In this colourway, I’ve used more than one dye colour to create it. However, you can also make a semi-solid with just one shade of dye like the picture below:
Fingering weight yarn dyed by me using Greener Shades dyes
In both cases, it was done in a large stock pot, with a fairly high water level but not as high as for solids, perhaps 3/4 full. As we’ve discussed, solids need a high water level. For semi-solids you want a slightly lower water level so the yarn doesn’t have so much room to move; you want to get more dye on sections of the skein and less on other areas. This gives the darker (more dye) and lighter (less dye) tones.
When I dye my semi-solids, I usually lay down a base layer in a method similar to solids. I do not have any acid in my simmering water and I add a small amount of dye in much the same method as for solids; I make my dye bath and then add my yarn. This gives a fairly consistent all-over colour. From there I might add another layer of the same colour or a different one in the same method. Once I’m happy with my base colour, I’ll add my acid and allow it to set for a few minutes.
Then depending on what colourway I’m dyeing, I’ll add my next colour (could be the same as my previous steps or another of the same colour group) in an indirect method, where I pull and push my yarn into and out of the ‘clouds’ of predissolved dye as I add them to the pot. This allows certain parts of the skein to get the full brunt of the dye where other parts only get a small amount. This step can be repeated as many times as required, with as many dyes as required to get the desired effect.
I personally love using semi-solids (and their variegated tonal cousins). I find they give a lovely depth to the colour of the overall knitted fabric, and generally no one stitch is identical to another as they all have a slightly different tone.
So I hope you enjoyed this installment and it has been helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Do you like working with semi-solids? Do you have a favourite dyer of semi-solids? Let me know in the comments.
Stay tuned for the next post on tonals.