{Tutorial} Get Started With Yarn Dyeing

DIY yarn dyeing

DIY yarn dyeing

DIY yarn dyeing

DIY yarn dyeing

DIY yarn dyeing

I’ve been experimenting with dye recently…and even though I’m sure there are a million ways to make this more complicated I thought I would show you the VERY simple process I used to get these three skeins! Of course there are many different factors that will affect the outcome of your colors, but it’s only as hard as you make it! So if you are interested in home dyeing, this tutorial will get you headed in the right direction!

(These instructions apply for variegated colors…)

What you will need:


Undyed Yarn

Step 1: Unwind Your Skein

If you are using yarn that is wound into a skein (above left) you will need to unwind it back into a hank (above right). This is super easy to do…just find something that is about 60″ around (I use 2 chair backs set up next to each other) and start winding. You may want to have someone hold the first bit of yarn until it stays put as you are winding.

You can weigh your beginning skein if you want a certain amount of yarn in your hank…(I wound about 50 grams from my fisherman’s skein for mini-hanks to use as my testers) and then just weigh periodically while winding until you reached you desired weight.

Once you are done winding, loosely tie the hank in about 4 places to keep it from tangling while you work with it.

Step 2: Soak

Take your pot and fill it with enough tepid water to cover your yarn and soak for about an hour, pressing all the air bubbles out gently so it is well saturated.

After the hour or so is up, dump out all the water, leaving the yarn in the pot…the hank should be snaking around in a single layer, not too bunched in one spot.

Step 3: Prepare Your Dye

In a separate container, mix your dyes with water into whatever strength you desire. I used small glass measuring cups with a pour spout to make it easy to pour onto the yarn. We won’t add the dye until after it has simmered and been removed from the heat so just set your dye aside.

Here are the “recipes” for the ones I dyed below so you can get an idea…but experiment! Have fun! (Be sure to wear your mask and gloves especially if working with powdered dye as it can release small particles that can be irritating).

Left Hank: Several tablespoons of Liquid Rit Dye in the color “wine” mixed in 1 cup of water and randomly poured in dye bath of nearly submerged yarn.

Middle Hank: Several drops of wine mixed in 1 cup water and randomly poured over yarn that was about a little less than halfway submerged…leaving plenty of white yarn remaining. Then I sprinkled some ( 1/8 tsp) powdered Rit dye in “wine” and “tan” (it’s sold in the box) on the yarn that was not submerged in a few places (The photo in Step 5 shows this hank after I am finished adding the dye). Don’t as me where the little bit of blue came from! It was a happy accident…possibly in the tan powder to tone the warmth down but since I didn’t dissolve the box together it showed up pure blue! Fun!

Right Hank: One packet grape Kool-aid dissolved in about 3/4 cup of water and randomly added. Also pour about a tsp of liquid Rit dye in “Pearl Grey” in a few spots.
DIY yarn dyeing

Step 4: Add Water

How much water you decide to use here will give you different results. I found that adding only enough water to allow about half of the yarn to be left out of the water was about right for the variegating I wanted in my skeins..whereas submerging the yarn will allow the dye to move more freely, thus your yarn will be less variegated.

Step 5: Simmer Gently

Put your pot on the stove AND THEN bring your water to a simmer. As soon as your water is at a soft simmer take your pot off the heat. AT THIS POINT YOU WON”T MOVE THE POT UNTIL IT”S COOLED COMPLETELY.

Step 6: Add Dye Gently

Less is more. Here is an overhead of my sock yarn after I added the dye. As you can see I just randomly placed the dye in different places…leaving some spots white and sprinkling pure color on other places that were NOT submerged to create that speckled look. As the dye sit, it will spread a little more depending on how much water you use.

Step 7: Cool To Room Temp

Let cool in place for a few hours. Don’t touch or move your pot unless you want the dye to wander.


Step 8: Rinse and Wash

Using your gloves, gently and quickly gather your yarn and pull it out of the pot and into a sink or tub filled with water of the same temp…gently press out the yarn and use a little laundry detergent in the water and just press gently. Drain and rinse again. Careful not to agitate the yarn too much…you don’t want it to felt! Drain and press gently in a towel and then hang to dry!

I hope you try it! I am planning on making my very first pair of socks with the yarn I dyed…wish me luck!



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