Hand-dyeing yarn with food colouring: Slow cooker method

hand-dyeing yarn with food colouring using a slow cooker (crock-pot) by @hookabee
This is the second post in a series I am doing on how to hand-dye yarn using food colouring. Previously, I harnessed the heat of the sun to dye a small skein of yarn bright yellow, and this time I am going to show you how I used a slow cooker to dye my yarn pink.

If you missed the last post on hand-dyeing, make sure you read at least the first section on the basics of dyeing with food colouring and how to prepare your yarn.

Hand-dyeing using a slow cooker (Crock-Pot):

Dyeing yarn using a slow cooker is much like the sun method because you don’t have to monitor the yarn continuously and it takes a longish amount of time. You can set the yarn and dye up in the cooker and leave it be while you go about your day – so super easy!

This time I chose the pink dye from my box of 12 Wilton Icing Colours to dye the little 25 g skein of alpaca wool yarn I had made last time.

My slow cooker dyeing protocol: (using 25 g of yarn)

  1. I pre-soaked my yarn for about 30 min in a bath made up of vinegar (2 tsp) and water (2 cups). I used these volumes because my dye is pink (so needs less vinegar than blues, see DyeYourYarn.com), and the total volume was able to cover my yarn fully.
  2. In a glass measuring cup, I mixed 2 cups of water with 2 tsp of vinegar and some Pink Wilton icing dye. I just estimated the amount of dye, but used no more than 1/4 tsp because I didn’t want extra, and therefore wasted, dye that wouldn’t be taken up by the yarn. I based this on the info found on the DyeYourYarn.com site for Wilton dyes: “[Use] 1/16 teaspoon Wilton® Icing Gel on .2 oz Lion Brand® Fishermen’s Wool. This amount of gel produces a saturated dyebath. Using more gel will leave food color in the dyebath that will not bond.” With the Wilton’s concentrated gel, I did find I needed to wisk the solution for some time before it was less clumpy, and even then there were little bits that were still concentrated.
  3. Next, I poured my dye solution carefully into the slow cooker and then transferred the wet yarn from the pre-soak bath into the cooker. Before you transfer your yarn, make sure that your two baths are not drastically different in temperature. This reduces the chances of your yarn felting. Finally, I placed the slow cooker’s lid on and set it to high.Hand dyeing yarn using a slow cooker and food colors by @hookabee
  4. I then kept checking the slow cooker every so often to see how the yarn was doing. You want to leave it until the dye bath is clear – this means all the dye has been taken up by the yarn. I started at 11:00 am and left it in until 3:00 pm, but I think I could have taken it out earlier.
  5. Once I noticed the solution was clear, I removed the yarn and placed it in my glass measuring cup and waited until it had cooled down before rinsing it to remove any excess dye. You don’t want to suddenly rinse your hot yarn with cool, or even warm water, because this may cause your yarn to felt.  Once rinsed, I gently squeezed the excess water out (actually, I used my salad spinner and it worked really well!) and hung the yarn to dry outside in the shade.

And that is it! Once my yarn had dried I twisted it into a little skein and admired my work.hand dyed yarn using food coloring and a slow cooker by @hookabee

How does it compare to last time? This skein is dyed less evenly and is less saturated than my yellow skein, but that could be because I didn’t touch the yarn once I started the dying process. When I used the sun method, I shifted the jar every so often to make sure the dye was getting in everywhere – this time I didn’t. Also, there is a greater difference between the dye colour and the original yarn colour, so I can see more clearly where the dye did and did not take. I maybe could have used more dye to create a more saturated colour, but I really like the more mottled effect that was created; it reminds me of pink lemonade!

Next method: Stove top dyeing!

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Until next time,
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