First, knit the blank using two strands of sock yarn. I used a Brother 864 and tension 10++ in plain stockinette. 100 stitches wide and about 2 feet long. I did this knitting while demonstrating hand-spinning and machine knitting at Wolcott Farms during their sheep-shearing day.
I wanted enough to make at least two socks. I used a weaving cast on and to take the blank off the machine, I rain the yarn tail through the stitches one by one. The resulting fabric was a little heavy and the stitches tight. Had I had a bulky available at the time of knitting, I would have used that.
Next, mordant the yarn using vinegar/water. Use a stainless steel pot (dedicated to dyeing, do not use for food afterwards!) Set the heat on medium and gradually bring the pot up to a slow simmer so as not to felt the yarn.
While the yarn is heating in the mordant, prepare the work surface. I used several sheets of newspaper under several sheets of plastic wrap.
I should have used more newspaper and more plastic wrap, or possible get a painter's plastic tarp cut to size to eliminate the gaps between two sheets of plastic wrap.
When the yarn has been simmering for an hour or so, it is time to take it out and lay flat. I used a bamboo spatula to remove the knitted blank from the dyepot.
Lay the blank flat on the prepared work surface, smoothing out any curls at the edges as much as possible.
Mix the dye powder (I used Jacquard iDye, found on clearance sale at Michael's) with vinegar/water. I used empty spice bottles this time. Next time I will use plastic condiment bottles from Gordon Foods. I realized toward the end of the project that this dye is packaged in a bio-degradeable plastic that dissolves when it gets wet. That is why it says "NO MESS" on the package. Silly me! This means that I could have simply placed the entire package in the bottle then added the vinegar/water mixture.
Apply the dye to the knitted panel in color blocks. This was so much fun, yet hectic, I forgot to stop and take a picture. I applied the colors with a little space between in order to allow for "melding" of the colors. Then wrapped up the knitted blank in the plastic wrap.
The package ready for microwaving (I had an unplanned-for leak.) Next time will use a plastic bag? Clean up any spills right away unless you want a multi-colored countertop. I used a magic sponge which worked phenomenally to pick up all the pigment from my white counter top. After microwaving, rinse. Be careful, the wool and steam of the microwave can cause burns. The color is a lot lighter than it looked prior to rinsing. Hang or lay flat to dry in the sun.
After the yarn is dry, unravel it. Skein the yarn, winding it onto a niddy noddy (shown here) or a ball. Actually I did both at the same time, since I only have one niddy-noddy and I had two strands of yarn.
Here is the final product. Well, it won't really be final until the socks are knitted. But I love the colors. At work the next day, I realized that the colors are almost exactly the same as the Mary Engelbreit calendar art for May 2012 in the calendar over my desk.