Saturday, June 5, 2010

To Dye For

Well, I figured that it was about time that I blogged about my newest knitting obsession...dyeing yarn at home! I've been knitting for about 3 years now. I started out buying the inexpensive, easily attainable yarn at Hobby Lobby, even Walmart. There's nothing wrong with this yarn...I still buy it. However, as the years have passed, my taste has gotten a little bit more at LYS's (Local Yarn Shoppes) that carry fancy shmancy yarn that takes a bit more out of the pocketbook. And since I have moved to Monterey and joined the local knitting group...I have been introduced to the latest trend in the fiber fabulous yarn world...indie dyers, hand-painted yarn, hand-dyed yarn, etc. Yarn that started out as a plain canvas and has been dyed to create masterpieces (literally), most of them even having names (see here).

So, after doing a little research, I decided to venture out and try to dye my own yarn. I read a few here. And then just decided to go for it. Here is a skein of yarn I dyed about a month ago...and a short tutorial on how I went about the dying process:

"Pretty in Pink"

Step 1: Gather materials: Crock pot, Wilton's Icing Dye, Vinegar, Measuring Cup, H2O

Step 2: Choose color(s) you want to dye with. For "Pretty in Pink" I chose to use only 1 dye, Rose. You may dye with as many colors as you want.

Step 3: Fill the crock pot with 1/2 cup of Vinegar, place skein to dye in the crock pot and fill with H2O until the skein is covered. Let it soak for about 20-30 minute in the vinegar/H2O solution.

Step 4: Turn crock pot on high and let it begin to heat up to about a warm temperature.
Step 5: While it is heating up, mix 1/4 tbsp. of Wilton's Icing Dye with about 1 cup of boiling water in a measuring cup or mason jar. The icing dye comes in a gel form, so make sure the water is boiling to ensure it is completely dissolved. Once completely dissolved, pour dye into crock pot as it reaches the warm temperature.

Skein and dye in crock pot heating up

Step 6: Let skein dye in crock pot for 1 hour, reaching the temperature on the High setting, but not to a boil. Check and make sure that the skein has taken up all or most of the dye by dipping a spoon into the dye water...the water should be mostly, if not completely clear. Turn off the crock pot, take the lid off and let cool (until the skein and water reaches room temperature). 

Step 7: Rinse skein (very little to no dye should be seen when rinsing) and I also soak the skein in some Soak wash (if I have some on hand) to get the vinegar-like smell to go away.
Step 8: Hang the skein to dry (to speed up the process, I typically put a fan to it) and re-skein if necessary. (Note: I didn't re-skein this one...I liked how it looked with the variations of pink)

And, TA-DA...I got a little something like this:

You can see where the dye picked up more in some areas than others, but it gives it a cool effect!
Overall, I was very happy with this is posted on my Etsy shop!! :)

And here is another skein that I dyed (using a different method) and a short tutorial on its process:

"Rustic Skies"

Step 1: Gather materials: Canning pot, saran wrap (the good kind, NOT the cheap kind or it might melt to the skein), Wilton's Icing Dyes, glass pie plate, squeeze bottles (found at Walmart), paper towels, H2O

For this skein, I used Wilton's Icing Dyes: Violet and Brown

Canning pot...sorry not as many pictures of this process :)

Step 2: Soak yarn like previous tutorial (I typically use my crock pot for this soaking as well, without turning it on) in vinegar/H2O solution for 20-30 minutes.

Step 3: While yarn is soaking, prepare dye the same way and pour into squeeze bottle(s). It helps to let the dye mixture cool a bit before pouring into squeeze bottle(s). 

Step. 4: Lay out a few layers of saran wrap onto flat surface (helps to put newspaper or plastic table cloth underneath to protect surface). Once skein has soaked, ring skein out and place onto saran wrap.

Step 5: Apply dye however you like to your skein...lengthwise, stripes, zig-zags, etc. You may want to flip skein over and apply dye to other side as well. Wrap skein up in saran wrap (bring top down over skein, bring bottom up over skein and roll into a pinwheel...if saran wrap has too much liquid from the dye, you can wipe up with paper towels or transfer skein to new saran wrap and wrap up. 

Step 6: Cover bottom of canning pot with water, place glass pie plate onto jar rack upside down and bring water to a boil. Place pinwheel-wrapped skein on the center of the pie plate, like so:

Step 7: Cover with lid and let steam in the canning pot for 1 hour. After the 1 hour, turn stove off, take lid off and LET COOL...the plastic and skein will be hot. Once cooled, unwrap skein and rinse/wash/dry like first tutorial.


I re-skeined this one to get a more variegated look.
It is also on sale in my Etsy shop! :)

Well, there you have it...2 methods of dyeing yarn that I have experimented with. I am nowhere near an expert on this and am learning more and more about it each time I attempt to dye. But it is really fun to experiment, especially with different color combinations...and I am proud to say I sold 2 of my dyed skeins:

"Peaches 'n Cream" & "Mermaid Tails"

It was a proud moment but I was kind of sad to see them go. :( Anyway, this was a super-long post, hope you all have made it this far and enjoyed reading about yarn-dying! Thanks for reading!


  1. Those are beautiful and you are soooo talented...and patient! I know you put a lot of work into your projects but I also know there is a lot of self-satisfaction in that! I can't wait to see what you do with your beautiful yarn.

  2. Thanks Katie!! It is a lot of work...definitely a process! But fun too! :)

  3. Love this! Gives me ideas for my own how-to-posts.

  4. Thanks!! Glad I could help :)


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