How to Dye a Rainbow Gradient Yarn (using a sock blank!)

Today I’m going to show you how I dyed this beautiful skein of yarn:

Gradient Rainbow yarn dyed with Wilton Icing Dyes by FreshStitches

I’ve talked about how to dye a gradient before, but today’s technique is a bit easier (but costs a little more). For this project, I used a sock blank.

What is a sock blank?

A sock blank is basically length of undyed yarn knitted up using the stockinette stitch. I purchased mine from Knit Picks. It’s more expensive than buying yarn in a skein, but having the yarn already knitted up makes it easier to dye a gradient.

How to dye

You can dye yarn lots of different ways (check this post for how to use Kool-Aid), but for this project, I used Wilton Icing Dye. (check this post for a tutorial on how to dye with Wilton Icing Dye).

color card for wilton icing dye on yarn, freshstitches

Once you’ve set up your dye, you’ll want to apply a little bit to the sock blank… basically making rainbow stripes. You want the stripes to be horizontal (along with the direction of the stitches) in order to get a gradient.

gradient rainbow yarn by freshstitches 2

I used a silicone pastry brush to apply the dye and put the blank on a big cookie sheet (you don’t want that dye getting on anything else!

gradient rainbow sock blank freshstitches

To get the best gradient effect, overlap the colors a little bit (that is, you want a little green over top of the edge of the blue stripe… otherwise, you’ll get very definite stripes)

How to finish the yarn

You just let the yarn dry, and it’s dyed! But, you’ll want to wash and unravel the yarn before knitting with it, or else it will be all kinky (just like when you frog a project).

I washed the yarn (I guess it’s not a blank anymore!), and then unraveled it and wound it onto a niddy noddy. This makes a nice skein (and has the benefit of allowing the yarn to dry well).

niddy noddy freshstitches

Pop it off, and you have a skein!

gradient rainbow yarn by freshstitches 1

You can see the true beauty of the yarn when it’s wound into a cake:

Gradient Rainbow yarn dyed with Wilton Icing Dyes by FreshStitches

Amazing, right?

Tips and Tricks

  • If you’re not sure how a particular color will come out, do a test swatch! You don’t want to mess up an entire skein because one color comes out different than you wanted!
  • The disadvantage to a sock blank is that the bits of yarn that are tucked inside the stitches are a little harder to soak with dye, so a light application of dye may result in splotchy yarn. (although… it’s a cool look, so experiment. You may want that on purpose!)
  • Be careful what you put your blank on. Keep in mind that excess dye will be carried along with the liquid… and if it touches other parts of your yarn, it’ll dye that, too!
  • You can make your own blank, particularly if you have a knitting machine!
  • This same technique works with any kind of dye!

One reply on “How to Dye a Rainbow Gradient Yarn (using a sock blank!)

  • JoeL

    thank you Very much. this is an extremely useful tip. I can see myself using this throughout my yarn crafting years to come. thanks1

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