Progressive/Gradiant Dyeing Part 2: Quick & Easy See What You Get

After my previous dye experiment, I found myself wishing there was a way to get that progressive effect without needing to babysit the yarn all day long.  I found inspiration for this second method in the appearance of my first ball once I’d wound it into a cake:

I know that yarn that is too tightly clumped together won’t absorb dye; that’s why normally when dyeing, you wind the yarn into a loose skein.  The first time I ever dyed yarn, the skein had stripes where I’d tied it too tightly.  But, I reasoned, what if I used that very capacity on purpose to produce a progressively dyed yarn?  Since I still had 1/2 a skein of Patons Classic white left, plus some leftover green dye, I decided to experiment right then and there. 

I wound the remaining Patons into a very tight ball on my ball winder, intentionally tensioning with my fingers to keep it small and tight, because I didn’t want dye to penetrate too quickly.  Also in an effort not to allow too-quick penetration, I didn’t soak the yarn before dyeing.  Finally, because I didn’t want to dye the top and bottom of the ball, I placed the ball on top of an upside-down saucer, and put another saucer on top.  Be careful if you try this yourself–make sure your saucers can handle the heat.  These are Longaberger saucers and are oven-safe, so I figured they’d be fine.   This saucer-wrapped ball was placed in the crock pot and allowed to sit until… well I intended to go until the dye exhausted, but after two days, I was bored.  Green dye takes forever to exhaust.  I pulled it out and removed the saucers, and this is what I found.  The top of the yarn looked like this (the green spot comes from the tail getting trapped there after it had had a bit of dye):

And the bottom looked like this:

Success!  I hope?  Had to wind it into a skein to make sure.  Sure enough, as I skeined off the yarn, the dye went from very dark on the outside to lighter on the inside, and about the middle 40% remained pretty much natural.  However, it’s also speckled, with less dye having been absorbed where two strands crossed each other.  In my desire to wind it tight enough for this to work, I found, I’d actually wound it tighter than necessary!  But it makes a very interesting effect, and now I’ll know that next time, I can try a looser wind.

Overall I’m really pleased with this method, especially the set-it-and-forget-it aspect.  This method would also work great for hand-wound balls, because for that you wouldn’t even need the saucers, although it would also end up being more of a surprise because you wouldn’t be able to remove the saucer and see what was going on inside.


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