Updated: May 3
Have you ever wanted to learn how to dye your own yarn? Or can't find the exact colorway for your next project? I have the solution--and it is so much fun. Follow me through the process and see how to make your next jaw-dropping project.
If you are worried about matching colors--google a color chart and see what goes together. I love color and I don't worry about matching--I just go with whatever feels right for the day. so I want to use my favorite colors for this project:
Hot Fuchsia, Turquoise, & Chartreuse and my favorite yarn--superwash swish merino wool in dk weight. (the hot fuchsia made different shades of purple and the chartreuse made different shades of green--so pretty).
Today, I will take you through the process of how to select your yarn, what dyes to use, what equipment is needed, the actual process I use, and how to dry.
I use one affilitate partner in this blog--Knit Picks. By clicking on a some of the links below and purchasing their yarn I may receive a small commission at no extra expense to you. The other links are provided to you for easy reference to a product or information.
Selection of Yarn
Depending on what you are wanting to create will dictate what yarn you will need. For, todays project we will be using bare wool yarn--more specific--merino wool superwash in dk weight.
I buy my yarn from Knitpicks and Knomad. However, there are many avenues to buy your yarn. Things to keep in mind: is it a protein fiber--protein fibers mean it comes from an animal source and cruelty free.
Note: only natural materials can be dyed--no synthetic material--100% cotton, wool, or silk. The dyes I use for wool are different than for cotton. I will go into this further in a future blog. But for now we will be using jacquard acid dyes.
Why Acid Dyes?
Acid dyes work really well on protein fibers like wool, silk, angora, alpaca, etc...
Don't be nervous about using an acid dye. The dyes we will be using are non-caustic and very safe to use. However, when using acid dyes, beware they do stain your hands, countertops, and any plastic utensils.
All equipment used for dying must not be used for cooking--only designated metal spoons, metal pan, and metal tongs--use what you have on hand and put away for another batch--trust me once you do this you will want to do it again and again--it is so much better than buying from someone else. You get to choose your colorway and do it your WAY. More info on acid dyes.
I purchase my dyes from Dharma Trading company. They are fairly inexpensive, fast shipping and have a large variety of colors in stock.
If you are unsure what colors go well together you can stay with one until you get the hang of how much dye to use--trial and error. Remember you can always re-dye it to a darker color or make your yarn darker--can't go darker to lighter.
I little bit goes a long way.
Equipment You Will Need:
I keep my dyeing stuff in the garage. I washed them and now they are ready to use.
Metal Pan or Pot--I used a metal roasting pan. I like to be able to see the yarn and this roasting pot will easily hold 4 skeins of yarn.
Large metal tongs with good strong rubber tips to withstand heat.
Metal measuring spoon--I like these little tea spoons that grab a pinch of dye.
Wooden Rubber Spatula--this will be stained and will not come off. Just rinse thoroughly after use to prevent dye coming off on your next project.
Paper to cover countertop
Old clothes or something you dont care if you get some dye on--it will not wash out.
Place to dry your yarn--I usually do multiple batches in one day--so I use a portable drying rack I purchased at Walmart.
Bared yarn is sold in hanks--once your hank is dry you will need to make a cake ball using a Yarn Swift and Yarn Ball Winder. We will go over this next week's Blog on: How to Use a Yarn Swift and Yarn Ball Winder
Steps to prepare
Ziplock tie around the hank. I use bright colored ones. Helps me to see them better.
Place your yarn in a medium size bowl 3/4 way full warm water to soak for appx 30 mins. This will allow the fibers to fill with water to absorb the dye(s).
Fill the pot or pan with an inch of water. I don't fill it full.
Add 1/2 cup or so an vinegar. Use can use Citric Acid but vinegar is cheap.
Bring the water up to steaming but not boiling.
Rinse your yarn--fill up with warm water again--this way the yarn is not shocked when placed into the steaming water. Note: Don't over handle the yarn--don't twist or wad up. Less tangles.
Gently place yarn into pot.
Add sprinkes of dye--this truly is the FUN part and the magic happens. You can add more than one color--just sprinkle in sections. You get to decide if you want a solid look for some natural showing through.
Keep an eye on your water--DO NOT LET IT COME TO A BOIL. Boiling water can felt your yarn. (Coming soon--How to Felt Yarn_.
You can shut off water and let the dye soak in--I leave it overnight.
The goal is to have all the dye soak into the yarn--You will notice the water should be almost clear when you go to rinse. If it isn't--no big deal--next time use less dye. One of those lessoned learned with practice.
Gently pour out the water or take out of the water and place under the running water (cool to tepid if your yarn is cool). Keep the running water the same as the water your hank was soaking in.
Rinse till clear--don't twist or wad--continue to be gentle.
Gently squeeze out water.
Once throughly dry you can wind if using right away--if you are not going to use right away leave it in the hank.
Thats it. Now you have your OWN colorway. Remember for a large project with multiple hanks of yarn you will need to dye them all at once, otherwise they will not coordinate together as well.
Next week we will go over how to use the yarn swift and yarn ball winder.
If you want a starter kit I have them available. You pick your yarn either in Swish Dk weight or Shish Bulky. If wanting more dyes colors let me know--three FREE colors with each kit.
Or you want to learn how to crochet? I have the perfect starter kit.