All items used here should NOT also be used to prepare food.
Materials you will need:
Yarn - I got mine at Dharma Trading, 75% wool, 25% nylon fingering weight (sock yarn)
Dye - I used Jacquard Acid Dyes
Distilled white vinegar
Synthrapol (available at arts & crafts stores; I got mine at AC Moore) or Dawn dishwashing liquid
Small tub for soaking
Plastic wrap - my sources recommended brand name (thicker ply)
Measuring spoons - plastic or stainless
Little containers for the dye
Sprinkler or spray bottle
Microwave oven (ideally an extra one, not one you use to cook food in)
Step 1: Prepare the Yarn
Step 2: Soak Yarn
Step 3: Prepare Work Surface
This would also be a good time to write out your instructions, and put them up on the wall. Years ago when I took organic chem lab they made us write out the lab instructions prior to performing the experiments, and I found this to be a very helpful preparatory step. Also actually referring to your instructions as you go is a good idea.
Step 4: Take Safety Precautions
Step 5: Mix Up the Dye(s) and Let Rest for 1 Hour
The recipe I used was: 1/2 tsp dye to 3/8 cup of hot water, plus 1 tbsp vinegar. Start by adding a very small amount of the hot water to the dye to make a paste. Then add a bit more of the water to thin the paste, and then add the rest of the water and the vinegar.
Let the dye solution sit for an hour.
Step 6: Lay Out the Yarn on the Plastic Wrap
Lay out yarn on the plastic wrap. Try to spread it out so as much of it is visible as possible, not mounded up.
Step 7: Paint Dye Onto Yarn
I am just learning what various painting methods do to the final product, so this is an experiment. I would encourage you to experiment with your own methods as well. The end result might look like crap, which is okay. It's all a learning process.
Step 8: Sprinkle Yarn Liberally With Vinegar
Step 9: Wrap in Plastic and Cook
Microwave in intervals - 3 min on, 3 min off, 3 min on, 3 min off, 3 min on - a total of 9 min cooked, but with resting intervals. Otherwise, if you try to nuke it nonstop for 9 minutes, the yarn will actually burn. This step should be done outside if possible, because it STINKS. If it's not possible to do it outside, make sure to have a lot of fans on so you air out the place. I don't know if it's toxic to breathe it or not, but it definitely takes your appetite away.
Alternatively, you can steam the yarn in a vegetable steamer and a stainless steel or enamel pot, for half an hour to an hour.
Step 10: Cool, Soak, Rinse ... Repeat?
Soak yarn in warm water plus 1/4 tsp Synthrapol for 5 min.
Rinse, starting with warmer water, then going to lukewarm, until water runs clear.
Air dry until completely dry, then reskein for maximum effect.
Step 11: Source Materials
How a college student dyes yarn