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How to dye Starry Night inspired baby alpaca yarn

By Gina Rockenwagner on October 12, 2020

Baby alpaca yarn is a treasure in a dyer’s arsenal. The delicate haze of baby alpaca and its delightful warmth make it a favorite for cold weather accessories and sweaters. Alpaca are naturally gentle on the ecosystem, making their fibre an environmentally friendly choice. 

It can be tricky to dye alpaca, as the fibre does take a bit of coaxing to absorb the color to the intensity you might desire. Armed with a little bit of know how, we will have you dyeing baby alpaca yarn chock full of vivid depth in no time. In our step-by-step tutorial, we’ll show you our tips and tricks for dyeing LATTE, our 100% baby alpaca yarn. 

For this colorway, we took inspiration from Vincent Van Gough’s painting Starry Night. The vivid blues beautifully compliment the mellow yellow tones just like the famous painting. LATTE’s slight halo gives the yarn that muddled impressionist feel.


baby alpaca yarn

  • 2 skeins of Knomad LATTE yarn – 100% baby alpaca. We designed this project for LATTE, but it would also work well on any of our yarns with alpaca, like STEAM, and IVORY.
  • Dharma Trading co dye for silk and wool
    For the blues:
    Sapphire blue
    Alpine blue
    Midnight blue
    For the yellow: Honey mustard
  • Gram scale
  • 4 cup s to mix the dye in, preferably a cup with a lid. This allows the extra dye powder to be stored for a later use!
  • Citric acid powder
  • Metal chafing pan at least 3 inches deep a lot of surface area in order to get nice speckles.
  • A measuring spoon. Any size will work.
  • Your regular set up for heat setting yarn
  • Optional: zip ties


Loop a zip tie around each skein of yarn, if you are using them. Soak the yarn in lukewarm water with a dash of citric acid for about 1 hour.


Make sure to always protect yourself with gloves and a respirator whenever you work with dye in its powder form. A dust mask is not enough protection to safely work with dye powder!
Use the gram scale to weigh out the dye and citric acid in a cup.

For each of the blues, each color in its own cup:
1 gram dye + 2 grams citric acid

Use the measuring spoon to mix the dye powder and citric acid powder together

For the yellow:
1 gram dye + 2 grams citric acid + 2 cups of water
Use a clean spoon to stir the dye mixture


DYE THE YARN, soak yarn

Remove each skein from the soaking liquid, gently squeezing the excess liquid out of the yarn. You want it to be damp, but not sopping wet. Place the two skeins side by side in the pan, pressing them down and spreading out the skeins so as much surface area as possible is exposed.  Your yarn should look like the image above. Add 2 cups of the soaking liquid to the pan with the yarn.


dye the yarn, latte hone

Use a clean measuring spoon to drop of yellow dye stock in 6 spots on the yarn. I used about 2 tablespoons of dye for each spot.

dye yan in progress

Then, I used a spoon to sprinkle the 3 blue dye colors around the pan. Sprinkle one color at a time, starting with the lightest color, in our case Alpine Blue, and ending with the darkest color, in our case midnight blue. Try to avoid sprinkling the dye powder mixture on the yellow spots. It is ok if the blues and yellow overlap a bit, but we want to avoid having the two mix and turn green. When you’re happy with the amount of blue dye, cover the pan and heat the yarn for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and allow the yarn to cool until it is cool enough to handle.


Using gloved hands, flip each skein over so the other side is facing up.

At this point, you just want to fill in any places in the yarn where you can see a lot of the bare yarn. I thought our yarn could use some more yellow and a light sprinkling of midnight blue. Less is more here, we don’t want the colors to mix and turn green.

Cover the pan and heat the yarn for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and allow the yarn to cool completely.


Rinse and dry the yarn as you normally would.

Enjoy your finished yarn! Make sure to tag us using #Knomadyarn so we can see all your fabulous projects.

latte finished, alpaca yarn

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Gina Rockenwagner

Gina Fama Röckenwagner (she/her) is a color-obsessed knit designer and textile artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her work has been featured in Vogue Knitting, Pom Pom Quarterly, and Purl Soho’s eponymous blog. She founded her line of soft, comfortable, and size-inclusive clothing, SOFT HAUS, in 2015. When not working on yarn-related endeavors, Gina can be found quilting, biking, baking and watching trashy tv with her cats, Paloma and Blooper.

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