ok, I have long since wanted to make gradient dye jobs, but I am too lazy to do as I have seen so many time and dye it in portions. So I thought about it.. What would happen if you wound the yarn into a cake and then dyed it? I can tell you.

First I admit I used a LOT of food coloring here, I like jewel tones, and I have learned that I need to use a lot of dye for that. I use Wiltons  cake decorating gels, the ones you get at Jo-anns or Michaels, in the cake section. I used an entire jar for this experiment.

First I wound off my yarn (100% wool, Jagerspun Heather, fingering weight, to be specific.) This yarn is destined to be leg warmers for the cool mornings here. Mainly around the house wear, so it didn’t really matter how badly the dye job came out. I did wind my yarn doubled, so that they will match mostly. Later I will rewind it into individual cakes.

I took the wound cake of yarn, and soaked it in a water and vinegar solution (I never bother to measure I just pour some in. I admit this was a pretty strong vinegar solution.) I set the cake into a pitcher and added the water and vinegar to it, when the cake floated I took a mason jar and half filled it with water and set it on top of the cake, after about half an hour I removed the jar and the cake stayed submerged. 

Next, I prepared my dye bath. Same quart jar I had used earlier, I dumped the food coloring into and more vinegar, this time about half a cup, and a couple cups of water, I used my whisk to stir well, dissolving the food coloring, I poured this into the bottom of my small (4qt) Crockpot I set the yarn cake into and rinsed the jar out with the water/vinegar mixture from the pitcher until it covered the yarn cake. I set the Crockpot on Keep warm, put the lid on and walked away fro several hours.

When I came back I removed the yarn cake carefully with a slotted spoon and set it into a bowl to cool, once it was cool to the touch, I mean room temperature. I put the cake into a colander and ran room temperature water over the cake, occasionally flipping it over to rinse the other end, until the water ran clear.  I shut off the water and set the colander over the now empty bowl and let it sit there for about an hour, dripping as much of the water off as it would give. Next I very carefully wrapped the cake up in a towel and added pressure to squeeze out as much of the water as possible while disturbing the construction of the cake as little as possible.   I carefully reshaped it (from the smashed oblong it had become back into a cake) and set it in front of my fan (yes I am still using fans here.)

This is what the exterior of the cake looked like this morning, just as it came out of the dye bath, but dry.


It was a little more purple looking that the photo shows almost a grape color.  And then I rewound it, starting at the outside and working in, so that what is now  on the inside of the cake is one the outside (this was done mostly to dry it, but also cause I wanted to see it.)

This is the rewound cake.


there are spots of the darker color all through it, but the closer you get to what was the core the more of the bright Caribbean blue that there is, I totally love it so far.. right now it is sitting in front of the fan again, but once it is dry I will separate the two strands and we will see how it knits up.

Oh.. and I have to share this one, just because I love the shot.


you can see all the little hairs and the definition between the plies and the two strands that were held together in the winding.  Ahh.. the fiber, you can almost feel the yarn love.