Printing with the sun is such a great way to get beautiful, finely detailed patterns without the need for colorwork! This technique works on any type of fabric made of natural fibers, not just hand knit items. It can be used to embellish clothes, scarves, purses, etc.
1/2 tbsp Jaquard Solarfast dye, 113 Black and 107 Blue. The dye can be ordered from Dharma Trading.
Something that you want to dye.
Flat leaves – fresh or dried (oak leaves used here)
Large paint brush, 2-3 inches.
Disposable cup or bowl for holding paint.
Table protector for painting (plastic tablecloth, newspaper, etc.)
2 pieces of glass of the same size, and at least 1 inch larger on shortest side than knit item.
Enough clothespins or other clips to securely hold the pieces of glass together (4-6).
Dyeing the Item
- During the morning or early afternoon (to have enough sunlight) wet the knit item and place it on a protected painting surface. Choose a place to paint with as little daylight as possible.
- Pour about 1/2 tbsp black and 1/2 tbsp blue solarfast dye into a disposable bowl and stir colors together with paintbrush.
- Use paintbrush to thoroughly saturate knit item with dye (the dye is practically invisible when painted on – be sure to paint evenly and not miss anywhere)
- Place the knit item onto the center of the first piece of glass.
- Arrange leaves on top of the knit item. Anywhere that is covered by the leaves will remain the original color of the yarn, and anywhere left uncovered will be dyed.
- Place the second piece of glass on top of the knit item and leaves, lining it up with the first piece of glass underneath.
- Use clothespins or other clips to firmly hold the two pieces of glass together. Be sure that the clips do not cover any of the centered knit item.
- Bring it all outside into the sun – preferably direct sunlight – and check on it regularly. The color will develop in the sunlight.
- Bring it inside when the knit area has become slightly more intense than the desired color. The solarfast bottle suggests 10 – 20 minutes, but factors such as time of day, time of year, and weather conditions may necessitate more time. I left this one outside for a few hours because it was midwinter.
- Remove the clips, top piece of glass, and leaves from the knit item.
- Hand wash it thoroughly in soap and hot water, then run it through the washing machine at the hottest temperature. Washing is very important because if all of the unused paint is not washed away, the dye may continue to develop if exposed to bright sunlight in the future.
- Lay flat to dry and enjoy!
- Finish the item as needed.
About the Instructor: Julie Linsenmeyer
I developed my knitting skills over several years of chronic illness. While stuck in bed, the challenge of learning new techniques and creating things of beauty was one of my greatest sources of joy. Now that I’m healing, I take delight in many more things, such as cooking, kayaking, swimming, walks in the woods, and learning many more techniques for creating beautiful accessories (you can check out my eco printed silk scarves, jewelry, and other creations at https://www.etsy.com/shop/LeafandBerry). But knitting will always hold a special place in my heart.
You can find more of my knitting designs here: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/julie-linsenmeyer