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Color pooling

By Amy Reader on January 12, 2021

Multicolor yarn is so fun to work with and relatively easy to achieve. One of the ways to achieve cheerful, multicolor yarn is to pool color in a shallow dye bath. Adding one color at a time gives you control over the color placement. Keeping the water shallow keeps the pigment in sections making the color pool around one area of yarn. 

Supplies:

  • 4 colors of acid dye 
  • Citric acid
  • A skein of undyed yarn Egret
  • Slow cooker or stockpot
  • Tongs
  • Several small cups

Multicolor yarn

Getting started:

Presoak your yarn. While your yarn is soaking, fill your dye bath vessel with just a few inches of water and a splash of acid. For one skein of yarn, I use one tablespoon of citric acid. Dissolve the acid into the water. 

Once the yarn is presoaked, add the yarn to the dye vessel. The water line should be at the same level as the yarn. Add heat. If you are using a slow cooker, turn it on high. If you are working with a stockpot on a stove or a hot plate, a medium/medium-high setting will work. The yarn should be hot throughout this process but not simmering. 

Whatever dye vessel you are using, you want the yarn to fill the vessel in one even layer without any extra room around the yarn. Extra room around the skein will give the dye room to move freely, which will disperse the color too much for this effect. 

 

Multicolor yarn

Adding the first dye color:

In a small cup, add one-half cup of water and a quarter teaspoon of your first dye color. Make sure you wear a dust mask and gloves for this part. Dissolve the dye in the water.

 

Multicolor yarn

Once the yarn in the dye vessel is hot but not simmering, add the dye water from the cup to one edge of the yarn. An easy way to think about this is to mentally divide your yarn up like a pie into quarters. Fill one-quarter of your yarn pie with the dye. Allow this dye to absorb fully into the yarn before moving on. The water in the area should be completely clear. 

 

Remove one-half cup of water from the dye bath.

 

Multicolor yarn

Adding the second dye color:

In a small cup, add one-half cup of water and a quarter teaspoon of your second dye color. Dissolve the dye fully in the water. 

Add the prepared dye and water to another quarter of the yarn. The direct opposite side of the first quarter tends to work well.

Allow the dye to absorb fully before moving on. The water should be completely clear. Remove a half cup of water from the dye bath. 

Multicolor yarn

Adding the last two colors:

Repeat the same process as the first two colors for the last two colors. Make sure you remove a half cup of water each time. The color pooling happens best in shallow water so removing a half cup of water each time keeps the water level low. 

 

Multicolor yarn

Finishing up

Once the last round of dye has fully absorbed, remove the yarn from heat and allow it to cool. Rinse and dry your yarn and then you are done!

A note on possible variations: this can be done with three or even two colors instead. The key is to keep the water level low. If you want to dye multiple skeins, you can work in batches, writing down what colors you used and where and recreate the same skein several times over or work in a larger vessel with multiple skeins simultaneously. Make sure you scale up your dye measurements accordingly. The skeins need to be a little squished in the dye vessel to keep the color pooled in your desired locations. 

Now you have a beautiful, multicolored skein of hand-dyed yarn to work with just waiting for your next project. Don’t forget to tag us in your photos @knomad_yarn. We can’t wait to see what you make!

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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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