Making gradient yarn with a knitted tube

I’ve been playing around with a small knitting machine, which basically creates a simple tube (like a sock or sleeve width). My intention was to see what kinds of gradients I could create using different methods.

The knitting machine I use is a small plastic crank machine that was only $30 on Amazon (Sentro 22 needles knitting machine). It supposedly makes a flat panel as well, which was what I was originally hoping to create, but the device is fairly clunky with that setting and I could never get it to work well. Plus, it takes 20–30 minutes to make a tube blank (I’ve currently tested it with around 250 yards of DK yarn) and when making a tube it’s a lot faster to just crank in circles to create the blank. Plus I’m happy working with the tubes, so that’s probably what I’ll happily use going forward.

My first attempt at a gradient was to use food coloring. I set up three containers with dye, water, and citric acid. Next, I draped the blank in the containers in a back-and-forth way so that the gradient would repeat a few times. My goal was to create an autumn-themed color shift, but I had never tested these colors before and really did not like how they turned out. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the finished product (I disliked it that much!). I used US Cake Supply brand in Golden Yellow and Burgundy (you can see the number of drops added in each container on the whiteboard image below).

My second attempt was to use purple and teal dye. I set several containers next to each other and added the dye, then placed the yarn blank in the containers to create a color-shifting/self-striping yarn. Here is the equipment and steps I used for this method:



  1. First I created the yarn tube using the Sentro machine.
  2. Next, I pre-soaked the yarn in water and 1 tbsp citric acid solution
  3. Each container was filled with water, citric acid, and dye
  4. The yarn was placed in the containers and distributed as evenly as possible. I let the yarn sit for a few minutes, then moved each section around a bit to try and blend the colors together between gradient shifts.
  5. The yarn was in a dye solution for about 10 minutes.
  6. Next, I filled a crockpot with water, some additional citric acid, and placed the yarn tube in the water.
  7. I cooked the yarn in the slow cooker on HIGH for about 45 minutes, turned it off, and let sit for a few hours to cool.
  8. I soaked the yarn in some Eucalan wool wash for about ten minutes and let air dry.

I’m very happy with how this turned out and can’t wait to knit it up to see what the color shift looks like!

3 thoughts on “Making gradient yarn with a knitted tube

  1. Lovely colors. What does one do with a tube? I remember making small ones as a child, but I never knew what to do with them! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s