The Rit Studio: Hand Dye Yarn in a Crock Pot Technique

How to Dye Yarn in a Crock Pot

Dyeing yarn is as simple and easy as dyeing fabric and allows you to create hundreds of custom colors for knitting and other DIY and craft projects. Dyeing yarn in a crock pot enables you to maintain a consistent temperature so the yarn doesn’t felt while obtaining a rich, even color.

This crock pot method works with both forms of Rit Dye:
Use Rit All-Purpose Dye for yarn that is: 100% cotton; 100% wool; 50% wool/50% acrylic; or cotton/rayon/nylon blends.
Use Rit DyeMore for yarn that is: 100% acrylic; 100% polyester; 50% acrylic/50% wool; or a cotton/synthetic blend (acrylic, polyester, nylon).

Prep, dye and rinse time: 1 hour

You’ll Need

  • Skein of Yarn (fiber content determines type of dye needed)
  • Rit Dye or Rit DyeMore Synthetic Dye
  • Crock Pot or Small Cook Pot (not recommended for cooking after dyeing, even though Rit is non-toxic)
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon for stirring dye
  • Tongs for lifting yarn
  • White Vinegar for Wool Yarn
  • Salt for Cotton Yarn
  • Liquid Dishwashing Detergent
  • Extra Yarn for tying skein to be dyed
  • Scissors
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Plastic Table Cover
  • Old Towel
  • Dishpan

Step by Step

  1. Unwrap skein of yarn; divide in half if two colors are desired. Note: If using a ball of yarn, wind into skeins for dyeing. You can use the back of a chair or a box to make the skeins.

  2. Tie the two ends of the skein together in a knot. Then tie the sides of the skeins loosely with extra yarn in at least 6 places. This prevents the yarn from getting tangled during rinsing and washing.

  3. Immerse skein of yarn in warm water with a squirt of dishwashing liquid. This will help to prepare the yarn for the dye. Let soak for 20 minutes.

  4. Dyeing Yarn requires slow, steady heat, not boiling, or the yarn will felt. A crock pot is easy to use, holds a steady temperature and the yarn skein is easy to control. However, a small cook pot can also be used.

  5. Fill crock pot or small cook pot with 3 quarts (12 cups) hot water. Crock pots do not hold much water so the water to dye ratio may have to be adjusted. Heat water in crock pot with lid locked until it begins to steam. This may take up to one hour. Note: To speed up this process, you can heat the water in a pot on the stove until it simmers and then transfer it to the crock pot.

  6. Cover work surface with a plastic table cover. Shake dye bottle before measuring. Wearing rubber gloves, measure ½ cup dye and add to water along with a squirt of dishwashing liquid; stir well. If dyeing cotton, add ½ cup salt; stir until dissolved. If dyeing wool, add ½ cup white vinegar. Acrylic yarn and other synthetics do not require salt or vinegar.

  7. Remove yarn from water, squeezing out excess water. Immerse into dye bath. Stir gently. If using a crock pot, cover and lock lid. Set temperature on High. Check frequently to be sure water is not boiling. Stir yarn gently. Let set for 30 minutes. If using a cook pot, do not cover and check frequently to be sure water does not boil or simmer too high.

  8. Remove yarn from dye bath and place in a dishpan. Rinse gently in warm water until water begins to run clear. Then wash in warm soapy water and rinse. Wrap in old towel to remove excess moisture.
    Hang yarn to dry.

  9. When dry, wind yarn into a ball. You’re ready to start a project.

Try our FAQs, or Ask The Dye Doctor