Dyeing yarn in a crock pot
How to Dye Yarn in a Slow Cooker
If you enjoy knitting, finding colorful yarn in unique shades can be a fun way to customize your projects. In some cases, though, the only way that you can get the shades that you want is to dye the yarn yourself. That may sound complicated, but if you use a slow cooker, the process couldn't be more simple. All you need is the right type of yarn, some vinegar to prep the yarn, water, and food coloring to do the actual dyeing.
Soaking the Yarn
Choose a protein-based yarn.In order to dye yarn in a slow cooker, you must choose the right type. You can only use undyed yarn made from protein-based fibers, such as wool or silk. The process won’t work on plant-based fibers, such as cotton, bamboo, or flax, or synthetic yarns, such as acrylic or nylon.
- You can use yarn that’s a blend of protein-based and other fibers as long as it’s at least 50 % protein-based. For example, you could use yarn that’s 75% wool and 25% nylon.
Tie the yarn in a loop.To prepare the yarn for dyeing, you need to wrap the yarn in large loop that’s approximately 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.2 m) (91 to 122 cm) long so it’s easier to work with. Wind it around the back of a chair to create the loop, and use a piece of synthetic yarn that won’t dye to loosely tie it so it’s secure.
- If you purchase yarn in a hank, or a big circle, you don’t need to tie it in a loop. A ball or skein of yarn must be tied in a loop, though.
- You may want to secure the loop of yarn in one more than one location to ensure that it stays wrapped up while you work with it.
Combine some vinegar and water.Find a large bowl that’s big enough to hold the yarn. Pour 8 cups (1.89 l) of warm water into the bowl, and add ⅔ cup (158 ml) of white vinegar. Mix the solution with a wooden spoon to ensure that the water and vinegar are fully combined.
- The water doesn’t need to be hot. It should be between 95 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 41 degrees Celsius).
Place the yarn in the vinegar mixture and let it sit.Once you’ve mixed the water and vinegar, take the loop of yarn and place it in the mixture. Push it down into the water and hold it under until it is saturated enough to remain under the water on its own. Allow the yarn to soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Soaking the yarn in the vinegar mixture helps soften the fibers so the yarn will absorb the color more easily.
Readying the Slow Cooker
Heat the slow cooker.To ready the slow cooker for dyeing, plug it in. Turn the heat to high, so it can begin to heat up.
- For the best results, use a slow cooker that holds at least 6-quarts (5.7 l).
- If you are using a non-food coloring to dye your yarn, such as a fabric dye, you shouldn’t use the same slow cooker that you use for preparing food. You may want to buy a second slow cooker just for dyeing yarn at a thrift or discount store.
- You can add a liner to the interior of the slow cooker if you’re worried about the dye coloring it.
Fill the slow cooker half way with water.After you’ve turned the slow cooker on, pour enough water into it to fill it halfway. Allow the water to heat for 2 to 3 minutes, so it’s slightly warm when you add the coloring.
- There should be enough water in the slow cooker to cover the yarn completely. Start by filling it half way. If the yarn isn’t covered once you place it in the slow cooker, you can pour in more water.
Mix the coloring into the water.When the water has had time to warm slightly, add food coloring in your chosen color to it. The amount of coloring you should add depends on how dark or bright you want the yarn’s color to be. Use a spoon to mix it into the water until it’s fully combined.
- For the best results, use synthetic food coloring. Vegetable-based food colorings typically don’t work as well.
- You can also use powdered food drink mix, such as Kool Aid, to dye the yarn.
- Fabric dye also works well to dye yarn, but it will leave you unable to use the slow cooker to make meals again in the future.
- It’s best to start with a small amount of coloring or dye. If you aren’t happy with the color of the yarn when it’s finished cooking, you can add more coloring and allow it cook longer.
- You can get an idea of how the color will turn out by sprinkling a few drops of the colored water on a piece of white paper towel.
- Create a custom shade for your yarn by mixing two or more food coloring colors.
Adding the Yarn
Place the yarn in the colored water.After you’ve added the coloring to the water, lift the yarn out of the vinegar solution. Set it immediately in the slow cooker, making sure that it’s completely covered by the colored water.
- There’s no need to wring out the yarn after you take it out of the vinegar solution.
Add more water to cover the yarn if necessary.If the yarn isn’t completely covered with the color solution, add extra water to the slow cooker. That may mean you need to mix in additional coloring or dye as well.
Cover the slow cooker and cook the yarn for several hours.When the yarn is completely covered with the colored water, place the lid on the slow cooker. Allow the yarn to cook in the colored solution for 3 to 8 hours, or until the water becomes clear because all of the color has been absorbed.
- Don’t stir or move the yarn while it’s cooking.
- If you allow the yarn to cook in the slow cooker until the water is clear and it still isn’t as dark as you’d like, lift the yarn out of the water and add more coloring or dye. Mix it in to ensure that it’s fully combined, return the yarn to the slow cooker, and allow it to cook until the water is clear again.
Draining and Rinsing the Yarn
Transfer the yarn to a colander and cool it.When the yarn is the color that you want, lift it out of the slow cooker. Place it in a colander in the sink, and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- When you place the yarn in the colander, press down on it to release the excess liquid in the fibers.
Run the yarn under lukewarm water.When the yarn is cool enough to handle, turn on the water in your sink. Rinse the yarn under lukewarm water until the water runs clear.
Dry the yarn with a towel.After the yarn is rinsed, place it on a dry towel. Wrap the towel around the yarn and press it to remove the extra moisture.
- It’s best to use an old towel because some dye may transfer from the yarn to the towel.
- You can also place the yarn in your washing machine on the spin cycle or spin it in a salad spinner to remove the excess moisture.
Allow the yarn to air dry.When the excess moisture is removed from the yarn, unwrap it from the loop and hang in a warm area of your home to dry. It may take as long as a day for the yarn to dry completely.
- When the yarn is dry, you can roll it back up in a ball or wrap it in another loop.
- If you have an avid knitter in your life, consider custom dyeing some yarn as a gift for them.
Video: Dyepot Weekly #81 - Space Dyeing Yarn in a Slow Cooker with Food Coloring
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