Over-dyeing commercial yarn

I purchased some yarn from KnitPicks a few months back, but when I got it in the mail I was not as happy with the color as I thought I would be. I love purple, but this color seemed to “Easter-egg” purple to me. I got this yarn before I started dyeing yarn myself, and recently realized that I had the ability to change it!

Because I was really wanting a purple color, and that I accidentally learned how to dye tonal yarn from my first dyeing experience, I decided to use some Jacquard Purple dye to do a tonal-dye on this yarn so that some of the original purple would show through.

Here is the equipment I used for this technique:

I started out by using my swift to turn each ball of yarn into a skein. Then I added some figure-eight loops on three or four spots and placed a zip-tie at one end to make it easier to grab and move the yarn around in the pot. Then I soaked it in cold water for about one hour.

Next, I prepped the dye mix. I used a pourable measuring cup and put two cups warm water in it, then dissolved 1 tbsp citric acid into that cup and mixed it until it was dissolved. Then I added 10 tsp (appx 50 ml) of the 1% purple dye solution into the measuring cup, and stirred to combine. I also filled the crockpot with water (about 2/3 of the way full).

After the yarn was done soaking, I gently squeezed out some of the water and placed each skein into the crockpot. Then, with the dye mixture, I slowly poured it over and around the skeins, lifting and moving them as needed to make sure there were no giant spots that were untouched. I poured the dye in several areas of the crockpot to ensure good dissemination of the dye. Then, I set the crockpot to HIGH and cooked it for about one hour.

Note: Putting the citric acid in the dye solution ensures that it strikes (attaches to) the yarn quickly. If you are going for more of a solid look, you will want to add the citric acid after you have submerged and soaked the yarn in the dye for a few minutes. You could also add citric acid to the water in the crockpot, or even soak it in a citric acid solution if you want to have the dye strike the yarn even more quickly.

After one hour, I removed the skeins and placed them in the empty dish tub, with the cookie rack at the bottom of it. I let them sit here until they are cool to the touch. (This is how I cool the yarn. You can also wait for the water to cool but I’m too impatient.)

Once the skeins are cool, I soaked them in the dishpan with a small amount of Eucalan plus cool water. After about ten minutes I squeezed them out and hung them up to dry outside on my drying rack.

Here is the result! I am SUPER happy with how these turned out. In the image below, the two skeins on the left are the standard Sugar Plum yarn (commercially dyed), and the darker skeins on the right are the over-dyed versions. (These colors are more accurate than the images above showing the dyeing process, the light is much warmer in my kitchen.) I think I might even try a different color of dye for the last two skeins of yarn in this color-way to see what I get.

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