I have gradient dyed a yarn "cake" and a yarn ball and now I wanted to try gradient dyeing a skein of yarn in the crockpot.
This is one of my preferred methods of dyeing my alpaca fiber; either in a crockpot or the microwave. I have both that are only for the purpose of dyeing. Any utensils or items you use for dyeing should not be used for anything else.
I started with a dry skein of yarn. If the skein is twisted - untwist it and check where it is tied together. If the ties are too tight then retie them so they are a bit looser. If the skein is tied in 4 places then remove 2 of the ties. If the tie is too tight then the dye will not penetrate and you will have white spots. Now loosely twist each skein back together until it twists onto itself, then tie the two ends together.
I decided to do two crockpots with 2 skeins of my 200 yd fingering weight alpaca yarn in each; one crockpot was going to have pink dye and the other yellow.
Water mixed with vinegar had been heating on high in the crockpots for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. I filled the crockpots between 1/2 - 3/4 full and added about a 1/4 cup of vinegar.
My choice of dye for my alpaca fiber is usually professional acid based dyes such as Jacquard or Country Classics with vinegar as the mordant. When doing just 1or 2 small skeins very little dye is needed. I have a “just a pinch” measuring spoon that I like to use and because I was using light colors I added a full spoonful directly into each crockpot. Mix according to the dye directions for the type of dye you have. If not using animal fiber yarn then make sure you are using the correct dye for the material you are using.
You should wear some plastic gloves whenever using dye. If you are concerned about chemicals in the dye then a mask would also be recommended.
I took the dry skeins of yarn and submerged them into the crockpots. You will have to hold them down in the water with a pair of tongs until they stay fully submerged.
Once submerged put the cover on the crockpots and check in a hour. The dye is fully exhausted when the water is clear. This usually takes 1-2 hours on high for the lighter dyes and 2-4 hours longer for darker dyes. If the dye has not exhausted in 2 hours then add a splash of vinegar and continue for another hour or longer in the case of darker dyes.
Once the water is clear, using tongs - remove the skeins from the crockpot but do not shut the crockpot off. Once cool enough to handle, gently squeeze out excess water from the skein (you can squeeze it over the crockpot so the water goes back into it). Untie where you tied the two ends together and untwist the skein of yarn so that it is open.
Add about a 1/4 cup more vinegar to the water in the crockpot and then mix in just a very small amount of the same color dye used earlier. I wanted the color to be a much lighter shade of the original color. Now place the skein back into the water until submerged, put the cover on the crockpot and give it another 1 -2 hours on high just as before. (I have repeated the same with the pink)
Once the dye is exhausted in the crockpot then shut it off and leave the lid slightly ajar and let the whole thing cool overnight. Be patient it is worth it!
I am a firm believer that the longer the dye sits the better it sets. Plus it will continue to exhaust any residual dye that may be in the pot and will make it easier to rinse in cold water in the morning, without any worries about varying temps and felting.
In the morning I took the skein out of the crockpots – gently squeezing out excess water. I then placed them in a cold water bath with soap (I use Dawn dish soap) and then rinsed them under cold running water. Do not agitate - just rinse and lightly squeeze out the water.
Once rinsed wrap the skein in an old towel to absorb any excess water and then unwrap and hang to dry.
I love how these came out!!
I hope this tutorial was a help should you decide to try dyeing fiber and I hope you enjoy dyeing your own fibers as much as I do!!
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