Dyeing With Mormor

For the last couple of months I have been trying to get granddaughter F interested in knitting. As many of you thought, four years old might be too young. I now think so too – at least with F; she’s much more “action” oriented. So I thought, “What is more action oriented than colorful dye baths of boiling water?” 🙂

Thus when F arrived to spend the day with me yesterday, I said, “I am going to dye today! Would you like to dye with me?” She looked at me, stricken, and said, “Oh no, Mormor [Norwegian for grandmother]! Please don’t die! I don’t want to die!” and burst into tears.

Oh dear …

When I explained the difference between “dye” and “die,” however, she wanted to dye. (She’s a trooper.) F donned her apron.

The night before I put four skeins in a dull pale blue of Cascade Yarn’s 220 Superwash Sport (100% Merino, 50 g/125 meters) into a soapy bath. After soaking over night, they were ready to dye. F’s favorite color is pink, but I had no pink dye among my containers of Jacquard Acid Dyes. I did, however, have a Brilliant Blue (#623) and Purple (#613), and she liked those colors on Jacquard’s dye chart. I made the powdered dyes into liquid dyes in small empty glass jars (with lids). We prepared four separate dye baths on the stove. F’s first responsibility was to fish out the skeins from their overnight soaking and put one in each pot and then turn on the heat. As the pots neared boiling, F poured varying amounts of the purple and blue dyes into each. Once she liked the color in each pot, she added about 3/4 cups of white vinegar.

Here are two pictures of the results. F was so excited to see the different colored yarns emerge from the baths. Two of the yarns are more purple; the other two are bluer. F exclaimed, “They’re the same, but different!”

I told F that I would knit or weave a surprise for her mommy using these yarns. I first thought the Color Affection scarf might be a good showcase for F’s first dying project, but the sport weight is a little too heavy. I’m always open for suggestions! Any thoughts?!

By the way, my lesson learned:  Don’t leave a 4-year-old watching the yarn without keeping a close eye.  I must have forgotten to tell her not to poke at the yarn too much.  I turned my back to wash dishes and each time I turned around she was gleefully poking the yarn.  Once I found her using a chopstick to create whirlpools in each pot.  The result:  despite four choke ties, the skeins of yarn are so tangled that it took me 1-1/2 hours to untangle one.

Oh well, in the grand scheme of life, tangled skeins of yarn isn’t important.  Having fun with your grandchild is.


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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25 Responses to Dyeing With Mormor

  1. I am sure you will have a lot of fun! I look forward to getting to teach my granddaughter how to knit. 🙂


  2. I learned to knit at 4 years old, and I taught my niece to knit at the same age. Thanks to your post, I think I’m going to teach her how to dye when she comes to see me this Christmas (she’s 8 now). Maybe she can even make something for my etsy shop!


  3. They can be rather addicting once you make your first one!


  4. I’m just a wee inexperienced knitter so I’ve not much knowledge of shawls just that they’re gorgeous. 🙂


  5. I have detangled only 1 skein so far – 3 more to go! 😦


  6. Oh we did.indeed! She really wanted pink dye so that’s next!!


  7. All grandchildren are so adorable which must be why we grandparents dote on them so! 🙂


  8. We had fun – and that’s the important part! I will have to send her to you for REAL dye lessons. 🙂


  9. I’ll try knitting in a few more years when she’s 7-8. I started around 5-6 but we had been living in Norway and I was surrounded by knitting family members so I think it was expected or something! 🙂


  10. Thx for the suggestions … I will take a peek at the WW shawl!


  11. You could dye outside if you have one of these camp-style burners and a propane tank. And we really didn’t make THAT big a mess. 🙂


  12. Me too … I think I’ll see if I can get the grandson to try knitting … He’s nearly 7.


  13. That’s what I’ll do … Granddaughter F’s mother would love it – she lived the colors!


  14. Yes, I think a small shawl would work best. Any favorite patterns you might suggest? I want to introduce grandson O to dying too. He has a book of physics experiments we’re working our way through – but the author overlooked dying!


  15. caityrosey says:

    Hahahah. Yep. I would have poking the yarn at her age too. It’s more fun than stirring spaghetti.


  16. minaandme says:

    How fun 🙂 It sounds like you had a memorable time with your granddaughter! That second in from the right is a beautiful shade of blue, my favorite! You’ll have to let us know what you decide to knit up with your pretty colors.


  17. F sounds adorable! She has good taste in colors too. 😉


  18. Northern Narratives says:

    That looks like fun. I would also worry about the mess. I learned to knit when I was eight so maybe your granddaughter willl be more interested in a couple years 🙂


  19. Curls & Q says:

    What fun! Wish I’d been there with my granddaughter. 😎 The colors are lovely, my favorite. I’ll be glad when it cools off enough to dye. We dye outside, have electric hotspots, etc. How about a Wandering Woman shawl? You can use heavier yarn on that. Or a Hap shawl?


  20. Tracey says:

    What fun! I’ve tried teaching my daughter to knit, and after several years of picking it up and putting it down, she’s finally figured out how to work the needles well enough to start making something. We haven’t tried dyeing. I’m afraid of the mess!


  21. Nice project! I can’t wait to teach mine to knit!


  22. Lisa says:

    How about a shawl


  23. Arts and sciences all combined, what a great mormor! It’s worth the tangles. Some kind of shawl? (I’ve just found out that sports weight is a non existent 5 ply. Very frustrating!) 🙂


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