I decided to try my hand at dying yarn. This is a process that can either go very well or quite badly, but no matter how you do it, you'll always get something different. For this batch of sock yarn, I am aiming for the color chartreuse, and using Kool-Aid in my slow cooker. This is what I did, plus a little bit of extra info for slightly different situations.
1. Start with a slow cooker, yarn to be dyed (must be of animal fibers - synthetic fibers will not take dye), and Kool-Aid. For this color I am using two green and four yellow packets.
2. Carefully remove the ball band from your yarn and spread it out. Hopefully your yarn is in a large loop already (mine was). Loosely tie some off-color (or white) yarn that will not take the dye or spread its own dye. Here I used Red Heart Super Saver in orange. Having an off color will help you to find these strings later.
3. Soak your yarn for several hours or overnight. Simply put the yarn into the container you will soak it in, and gently pour in room temperature water. Push down on the yarn with your hands to remove air bubbles. I soaked mine right in the slow cooker, but used NO HEAT for this step. At this point, the slow cooker is turned off and unplugged.
4. Once the yarn has soaked long enough, mix up your dye with water in a glass measuring cup (glass will not take on the color of the dye like a plastic cup may). If you soaked your yarn in the slow cooker, remove it to a colander.
5. Mix the dye with the water remaining in your slow cooker, and gently return the yarn to the colored water. Use a spoon (unless of course you want to dye your hands, too) to gently push down on the yarn so it is under water. Cover, turn the slow cooker on low, and (this is the hard part) WALK AWAY for a few hours.
6. Leave it alone for a few hours until the water is clear. Turn off and unplug the slow cooker.
7. Uncover and allow everything to cool to room temperature. Since I had the option, I took the crock out of the metal liner to allow for more airflow around it. This seemed to help reduce cooling time.
8. Once the yarn is cool, gently wash it in a bowl with a small amount of a very mild soap. I used a dime-sized squirt of my dish soap. Some people use baby shampoo. There are also specialized yarn washes available. In this instance, "wash" means "soak in the soapy water for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice as the spirit moves you". Do not swish or squeeze the yarn much, this can cause it to felt (depending on the content).
9. Rinse yarn by removing from soapy water, dumping and thoroughly rinsing bowl, refilling the bowl, and returning yarn to clear water. Maintain water temperature as much as possible; do not make drastic changes in temperature. Again, do not agitate the yarn much. Even if you have a yarn that will not felt easily, it's best to avoid forming habits that may cause you problems later.
10. Repeat this process (drain, rinse and refill bowl, return yarn to bowl, gently push down on yarn to rinse) until water is clear of all suds.
11. Remove yarn from bowl and gently squeeze out excess water. Most of the time, this is accomplished by rolling it up in a towel. However, since this is a superwash yarn, I cheated and spun it out in the washing machine by carefully opening the skein around the agitator, then turning on the spin cycle for a few minutes. This is where the orange ties came in handy. It was very easy to find exactly where to open up the skein around the agitator in the washer.
12. After removing the excess water, hang skein to dry.
13. Wind your yarn into a cake, and you're ready to work with it!