I’ve been dyeing some yarn in a watermelon-inspired colorway, and thought I’d take the opportunity to share someof the dyeing process with you. First, let’s look at some watermelon.  I want a self-striping yarn, so naturally it’s  going  to be green, white, and pink stripes. But I also want the seeds, and I want them to be black.

Here are some test samples.  They’ve all been steamed, so the colors are set.  The green gradation is nice, so I’ll use that green formula. For the watermelon seeds, there are two techniques  in process here.  The red and black skeinlette was painted black, then red was added.  The white and black skeinlette will get an overdye in a red dyebath to see which technique gives me the effect I’m hoping for.

 Now we’re looking at the  same red/black skeinlette from above on the left, and the newly overdyed red/black skein on the right.  On left skeinlette, some of  the black dye mixed with the red, shifting the color.  The overdyed skein to the right keeps the red true to itself, so that’s the way to go.

Now to dye a full skein.  Actually, I dye the self-striping yarns two at a time, so here are two skeins laid out in the floor. I’ve wound them off on a warping board, soaked them in water, and laid them out to mark off the lengths that get dyed each color. I use twist ties to indicate where to do the color changes.

This colorway will have three shades of green.  Here’s the darkest green, which is the end of the skein. The skein is on plastic wrap, which gets wrapped around the yarn as I go, to keep the colors from rubbing off on other sections of yarn.

I’ve painted all the green sections, moved past the section that will stay white in the middle, and now am working on painting the black seeds.  The first pair of skeins had way too much black — it spread a lot more than I anticipated — so I’m just painting on very short sections.

Now all the painted parts are done, and it’s ready to steam.

Don’t confuse the yarn steamer with the char sui bao steamer!

After the painted sections are steam set, the end of the skein that will be red and black gets its red overdye.

You can see the black sections — since the black has been already been steam set, it won’t spread out or effect the red dye at all.

Stay tuned for the rest of the process!