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How To Dye an Easy Gradient on KNOMAD Sandstone

By Gina Rockenwagner on November 25, 2020

undeyed yarn foy dye

Have you ever tried to hand dye a gradient on bare yarn? Many tutorials you will find online instruct you to make a gigantic loop of yarn. I tried to make a 50-foot long skein once. The whole endeavor had me tangled in knots! Not only did I transform my living room into a giant swift, but my cats were thrilled I created this cozy play structure for them!

I knew there had to be a better way. My experience with dyeing has taught me that dye has a hard time penetrating to the center of a tight bundle of yarn or fabric. Think of a tie-dye t-shirt, the white spaces on the t-shirt are areas the dye didn’t touch because they were folded to the inside of the bundle. This gave me the idea to dye a gradient on a cake of yarn. Rather than turn your house into a fiber themed obstacle course, you can simply use your regular swift and ball winder to make a nifty gradient on a cake! How exciting.

For this project, I chose to use our luxe bare yarn SANDSTONE. Made from a blend of 80% extrafine superwash merino wool, 10% mulberry silk, and 10% cashmere, this yarn has a subtle sheen from the silk and luxurious softness from the cashmere. At a generous 437 yards per skein, you get a lot of yardage out of each skein, which means lots of length to show off the gradient we will create. But enough talk, let’s get going on creating this degradé effect yarn!

 

MATERIALS

  • 3 skeins of Knomad SANDSTONE yarn – 80% extrafine superwash merino wool, 10% mulberry silk, and 10% cashmere. We designed this project for SANDSTONE, but it would also work well on any of our yarns with superwash merino, like STEAM, SNOWDRIFT, EGGSHELL, SALCANTAY, and MAGNOLIA.
  • Dharma Trading co dye for silk and wool. This color is TONER BLACK
  • Gram scale
  • A cup to mix the dye in
  • Citric acid powder
  • Metal chafing pan at least 6 inches deep – you could also use a pot here. Anything deeper than the height of your yarn cake will work!
  • A measuring spoon. Any size will work.
  • Your regular set up for heat setting yarn
  • A ball winder
  • An umbrella swift (optional, but if you don’t have this, you may need a partner to hold the yarn skein while you wind!)

 

PREPARE THE YARN

undeyed yarn foy dye

Wind each skein of yarn into a nice, neat cake. If you can, try not to wind the yarn too tight. Tangles and unevenly wound balls will not make a nice gradient. There is no shame in rewinding a cake if your first wind was not quite neat enough! When you are done winding each cake, tie a slip knot to secure the loose tail of yarn on the outside of the cake.

MEASURE AND MIX THE DYE

Make sure to always protect yourself with gloves and a respirator whenever you work with dye in its powder form. A dust mask is not enough protection to safely work with dye powder!

Use the gram scale to weigh out the dye and citric acid in a cup. 

I used 3 grams of dye and 5 grams of citric acid powder for each skein of yarn. Since I used three skeins, the total amount was 9 grams of dye and 15 grams of citric acid powder. Use the measuring spoon to mix the dye powder and citric acid powder together. Add hot water to the cup to dissolve the dye. Let the dye stock sit for a few minutes and then mix in any dye clumps that have floated to the surface.

DYE THE YARN

undeyed yarn foy dye

Pour your mixed dye or dye stock into the pan. Add enough water to bring the dye level up to the same height as the yarn cakes you wound. 

Heat the dye bath just to a low simmer.

Now comes the fun part!

Place your yarn cakes into the dye bath. They will float at first. Gently press them down and they will absorb more liquid and sink to the bottom.

Cover the pan and heat the yarn for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and allow the yarn to cool completely.

undeyed yarn foy dye

RINSE AND DRY

undeyed yarn foy dye

Rinse and dry the yarn as you normally would. I kept the yarn in cake form for the rinse, as you can see in the picture above.

To allow the yarn to dry evenly and quickly, I rewound the yarn into skeins. Rewinding the yarn reveals the gradient and makes the whole process so gratifying, even though it is a bit of extra effort.

Enjoy your finished yarn! Make sure to tag us using #Knomadyarn so we can see all your fabulous projects.

process of dyeing yarn

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Gina Rockenwagner

Gina Fama Röckenwagner (she/her) is a color-obsessed knit designer and textile artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her work has been featured in Vogue Knitting, Pom Pom Quarterly, and Purl Soho’s eponymous blog. She founded her line of soft, comfortable, and size-inclusive clothing, SOFT HAUS, in 2015. When not working on yarn-related endeavors, Gina can be found quilting, biking, baking and watching trashy tv with her cats, Paloma and Blooper.

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