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The Basics of Dyeing Beautiful Yarn at Home

Author: Annette Browning
by Annette Browning
Posted: Oct 30, 2020

Ever notice that no matter how much yarn you have at home, you never have just the right one for your knitting or crochet pattern? What you have in your stash is either too fine or not the right weight or color.

Well, don't despair! Just dye your own yarn and that way you can pick the perfect fiber and colors for your project.

Check out the Beginner's Guide to Hand Dyeing Yarn for ALL the info!

Step 1: Select The Yarn to Dye

In this guide, I show you how to dye protein fiber yarn which means sheep wool, alpaca, goat... any ANIMAL fiber. So, choose a yarn that is mostly protein. It does not have to be 100% wool.

For instance, this yarn (see photo) has a small percentage of a synthetic fiber which did not take the dye.

You can find yarn to dye at Knit Picks and Paradise Fibers websites as well as local yarn shops. The big box stores or craft shops may have white or light color wool yarn, just make sure and check the label.

Step 2: Select the Dye

Since we are working with protein fiber yarn, you will need to use ACID DYES. These are chemical dyes that are specifically formulated to work with animal fiber. They will not dye plant fiber yarn or synthetics.

There are several different brands such as Jacquard, Dharma Trading, Cushings and Country Classics. These can be found at Art Supply stores or Dharma Trading and Knit Picks websites.

Step 3: Choose Your Yarn Dyeing Method

This is the fun part! You need to decide how do you want your yarn to look. Do you want a solid color? How about multi, random color patches? Once you answer that question, you can pick the appropriate yarn dyeing technique.

SAFETY NOTE! The pots and pans and other equipment you use to dye yarn will no longer be safe for food prep or consumption! Therefore, I recommend you head to your nearest thrift shop and pick up whatever you need for dyeing.

6 Yarn Dyeing Methods


To dye your yarn one solid color, you will use the IMMERSION DYE method. Just like it sounds, you immerse your yarn in the dyebath, heat to set.

Semi Solid

This is yarn that is dyed with one color but various shades of that color. You can accomplish this with KETTLE DYEING or HAND PAINTING.

Multi Color

This can be achieved with a variety of dyeing techniques. You can HAND PAINT your yarn or you can use the KETTLE DYEING method.

Gradated or Ombre

This is a fun colorway where the dye fades from very strong and concentrated at one end to light or almost white at the other end. It can also fade from one color to another.

This yarn can be made by DIPPING or HAND PAINTING

Self Striping

Self Striping means the color runs are long enough to create stripes when knitted or crocheted. This is achieve by winding the yarn into a very long skein (15 ft or more) and then dyeing different sections. HAND PAINTING is the best method for this type of yarn.

Sprinkled or Speckled

This yarn is literally speckled which gives your final project a nice textured look like a tweed.

This is accomplished by sprinkling the dye powder onto your yarn.

Step 4: Setting the Dye

Once you have applied the dyes to your yarn, you will need to heat set the dye to make it colorfast. This can be done by steaming, simmering, heating in the oven or even the microwave.

The only thing left to do now is rinse out whatever little dye particles are left.

  • One rule of thumb when working with any protein aka wool yarn: To prevent felting, handle the wet yarn very carefully AND avoid any drastic temperature changes. ---

Good luck!



About the Author

Hey, I'm Annette, check out for lots more crafting tutorials

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Author: Annette Browning

Annette Browning

Member since: Jan 23, 2020
Published articles: 8

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