I recently finished a pair of self-striping socks with some beautiful yarn from Nomadic Yarns. I made these socks a bit taller than usual, but still had 37g leftover. I've managed to knit ankle socks with that amount of yarn in the past--but I didn't want another pair of socks in the same color.
What to do? Over-dye it, of course!
I have very little experience with dyeing, but do have a few packets of Kool-Aid stashed away for small dyeing projects. I've only tried dyeing with food dyes because I can just use my regular kitchen tools--if you use chemical dyes, you need to purchase separate equipment so you don't accidentally poison yourself.
The first step was to reskein the yarn. Normally I would use my niddy noddy for this, but I accidentally left mine at Rhinebeck, so I just used my umbrella swift--slower, but easy enough. I was worried about tangles, so I tied it in 3 places--probably overkill. Then I put it in a pot of tepid water to soak--washing it might have been a good idea, but I didn't bother.
Then I had to pick a color for the dye. The original colorway has blues, yellow, gray and brown. Using a red would give me some purples, orange, pink and darker reddish brown; I chose cherry Kool-Aid.
Since I was dyeing less than half a skein of yarn, I only needed one packet of "dye." I dissolved it in warm water, added the already-wet yarn, and continued filling the pot with water until the yarn was covered. Then I put it on the stovetop on high heat until it was almost boiling.
Once a few bubbles started popping up, I covered the pot, turned off the heat, and let it sit for about 30 minutes, swishing it around a few times. When dyeing with this method, you know you're done when the water is clear, meaning the yarn has absorbed all the dye. When 30 minutes was up, the water was clear, so I let it cool.
Once the yarn was cool enough to handle, I rinsed it in warm water, squished it in a towel to get out most of the water and then hung it to dry.
It turned out almost just as I had envisioned--maybe a bit darker--and the color is nice and even. Unfortunately, even though I tried to tie it loosely, there are spots under the ties where the dye didn't reach the yarn. I hope once it's knit up, they won't be noticeable.
This was a quick, fun project, and a great way to get extra mileage out of leftovers. Dyeing self-striping yarn, as I understand it, is a tricky, labor-intensive process, but by over-dyeing yarn someone else already striped, I get all the fun of a new self-striping colorway with much less work.
If you want to try over-dyeing yarn, remember to consider your dye color beforehand, rather than winging it. It's important to pick an over-dye color that works with all the colors in your original skein, or you might end up with something that looks like mud. A little color theory can help!