My problem with what’s available in craft stores? They’re all either acrylic or acrylic blends. When it comes to yarn, I really prefer natural fibers, so I’ve learned to dye my own wool gradients using easy to obtain sock yarn. For this tutorial I used a white skein of Red Heart Heart & Sole sock yarn.
Gradients can be created with colors that gradually change, such as depth of saturation in one color, as it changes from one color to another, or with related colors as I did above. If you want to do a gradient with depth of saturation changes, simply make different concentrations of the same color dye. (i.e.: 2 packets of koolaid in the darkest, 1 packet of koolaid in the next lightest and so on)
white wool or other protein based yarn (llama, alpaca, silk, milk fiber) NOTE: this process will NOT work on acrylic or plant based yarns
powdered koolaid drink packets, (at least 1 packet per ounce of yarn), in desired colors I used Mango, Orange, Cherry, Black Cherry and Grape
protection for work surface (koolaid stains!)
gloves, (blue nitrile gloves give the best protection)
large glass casserole dish
small glass bowls or pyrex dishes, one per color or saturation change
Preparing the Yarn:
Most of the work in gradient dyeing is in yarn preparation. Split the skein into 3 or more segments by winding portions into smaller skeins. They don’t have to be the same size, but to make it easy, I wrapped 30 times around my niddy noddy, and we just happen to have a handy dandy tutorial on how to make your own, (you can alternatively use kitchen chairs to wrap around), until the 5th skein, which held the last remaining amount of yarn in the skein.
As you finish wrapping each skein, tie it securely with at least 4 figure 8 ties. Lay the wrapped/tied skein to one side as you wrap the next, and so on.
Once I’ve wrapped and secured all the skeins, I tie them together through the loops at each end so I can tell which skein comes first, and next and so on.
Now carefully lay your yarn in a sink of cool water with about 1/2 cup of vinegar added. Allow it to soak until throughly wet – about an hour. Try not to disturb the skein so it won’t become tangled.
Prepare your dyes:
dissolve your powdered koolaid packets in 1 cup of water, each in their own container. Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to each. For this tutorial, I used Mango, Orange, Cherry, Black Cherry and Grape.
Add your yarn skeins in the dye baths:
Starting with the darkest color in your sequence, and being sure to wear your gloves, squeeze the excess dye out each segment and place in the casserole dish.
Heat to set the dye:
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave in one minute periods, with 2-3 minutes between, 3-4 times. Your goal is to get the yarn all steamy under the plastic wrap. The temperature to set the dye is 170 degrees and steam indicates you’ve reached the proper temperature. Allow the yarn to sit within its little steam bath until it’s completely cooled, then rinse in cool, clear water.
When your yarn has dried, you can cake it up in sequence and admire your mad dye skills. You are a color artist! Share your groovy gradients – post them in our Crafty Community facebook group, and share the hand dyed love! Use the hashtag #aprildyealong to share on instagram and facebook
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