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How to Steam Set Yarn

By Amy Reader on April 27, 2021

Steam setting your hand dyed yarn is a great, easy way to finish your freshly dyed fiber. Heat setting dyed yarn ensures the dye pigment fully bonds to the wool fibers. Any of the Knomad yarns will steam set beautifully, but today we are using MARSHMALLOW DK which is wonderfully soft and squishy.

 

SUPPLIES:

Undyed yarn like MARSHMALLOW DK 100% superwash merino wool, or any other Knomad yarn

Steamer rack or basket

Plastic wrap

Tongs

Pot with lid

Heat source – like a stovetop or crockpot

Gloves

Your usual dye setup and supplies

 

GETTING STARTED

Dye up your yarn using one of your favorite dye methods. Steam setting is a great option for setting speckles or other multicolor combinations.

Make sure that if you are working with acid dyes that you wear a respirator and gloves when handling the powders. Additionally, any tools used for dyeing should be reserved only for dyeing as they are no longer food-safe. 

 

how to steam yarn

 

PREP

Cover the bottom of a large steel stock pot or a crockpot in one inch of water. Place a steaming rack or basket at the bottom. I am using a steaming rack placed inside a crockpot in this example, but any steamer basket and pot combination will work! 

 

Dye your yarn as desired and if needed, carefully drain off any excess liquid. Your yarn should be damp but not dripping. Take your dyed yarn and wrap it thoroughly in plastic wrap so it looks like a colorful yarn burrito. The easiest way to do this is to lay down two longer sheets of plastic wrap on a table so that they overlap on the long edge by about two inches. Place your yarn on top and roll up the yarn inside of the plastic wrap starting on one side. Then wrap the yarn one final time to seal it all up into its little burrito wrapper. Make sure you wear gloves for this step and to protect your table using newspaper or a tablecloth. 

 

how to steam yarn

 

STEAM

Place your bundle of plastic wrap-covered yarn onto the steamer rack or basket. Put the lid on the pot. Turn on the heat to medium/medium-high to create steam. Leave the lid on the entire time your yarn is steaming. Allow the yarn to set for at least 30-45 minutes. After that, turn off the heat and allow the yarn to cool fully. 

 

how to steam yarn

 

FINISH

Once the yarn has cooled completely, remove it from the wrapping and rinse until the water runs clear. Squeeze out any excess water and hang to dry.

 

how to steam yarn

 

WHEN TO USE STEAM

Steam setting is a great option if you are creating a colorway that has a really precise application of color. Speckles work well with steam because the yarn is not as damp as when yarn is being kettle dyed so the pigment won’t shift in a dye bath. This creates crisp, clearly defined speckles. It is also a great option for hand painted yarn when you want to prevent the neighboring colors from mixing with each other. 

 

Now that your yarn is dyed, it is ready to be used! Be sure to share your freshly dyed yarn with us on social media by tagging @knomad_yarn. We can’t wait to see what you create!

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Amy Reader

Amy Reader is a fiber artist based in Portland, OR. She learned to sew when she was six years old and quickly fell in love with textiles of all kinds. With the help of her grandmother, Amy learned to knit and crochet shortly thereafter. Amy started dyeing with kitchen safe dyes and was immediately hooked. She loves working with bold and playful colors and primarily dyes yarn for her line of hand-embroidered jewelry.

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