There are so many ways to dye a skein of yarn! Today on the blog, we will cover three beginner-friendly techniques for creating beautiful, multicolored skeins of yarn. For each method, we will be using the same three colors. Each technique shows off a different way of creating a vibrant colorway. From the crisp, bright speckles to the soft blends of an immersion dye, there are many options for layering color on yarn! Each dye method is beginner friendly and an excellent choice for your first dyed skein. Let’s get started!
*Any materials used in acid dyeing are no longer food safe and should be kept separate
Fill the bowl with cool water and dissolve two tablespoons of citric acid into the water. Submerge all three skeins in the water. Let the yarn presoak for at least an hour. The skeins should be fully saturated before dyeing. A thorough presoak ensures an even dye application. Protein fibers like wool have a protective outer cuticle layer. The presoak process allows the fibers to swell, opening up the protective cuticle layer so that the dye pigments bond to the yarn’s core.
Use the masking tape and marker to label your three jars corresponding to the three dye colors. We use Spearmint Breeze, Pistachio, and Baby Blue Eyes for this tutorial. Put on your respiratory protection, gloves, and apron. You need to wear respiratory protection whenever you are working with dyes in powder form, as they are a lung irritant. Scoop 1/16 teaspoon of each dye into the corresponding jar. Scoop 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid into each jar and gently stir each mixture. Set aside.
Gently squeeze out the excess dye from one of the three skeins of yarn. The yarn should be damp but not dripping. Lay the yarn out in the chafing dish so that it spreads out across one, even layer.
Use a spoon to shake out half of each dye mixture over top of the yarn. Spread the powder around, leaving spaces of white in between the colors. These three colors will blend nicely together, so don’t be afraid to layer them in some sections. Heat set the yarn for 15 minutes.
Using gloved hands, flip the dye over and spread it out in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining dye over the yarn. Heat set for 15 minutes. Let the yarn cool, rinse, and dry.
Using your labeled jars from the speckle dye, fill each jar with one cup of the hottest water from your tap. Scoop 1/16 teaspoon of each color of dye into the corresponding jar. Stir gently to dissolve the dye. Add 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid to each jar. Set aside.
Place one skein of Bisque in the dye pot. Pour most of the soaking liquid over the top of the yarn. There should be about one inch of water covering the yarn. Place the lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Let the yarn heat up for 15 minutes.
Once the yarn is hot, pour the Pistachio dye solution over the top of the yarn. Use tongs to gently swirl the dye and yarn together to work the dye to the bottom of the pot. Replace the lid for 15 minutes.
Repeat this process with the Spearmint Breeze dye solution, focusing on areas of undyed yarn. Replace the lid for an additional 15 minutes.
Pour the last jar of Baby Blue Eyes dye solution over the top of the yarn. Blend the dye onto any remaining undyed yarn and into sections of already dyed yarn to create a soft blend. Replace the lid and allow the yarn to set until the dye bath is exhausted. A dye bath is exhausted when the surrounding water is clear. This means that the yarn has absorbed all available pigment. Allow the yarn to cool, and then rinse and dry it.
Prepare the dyeing surface by spreading out sheets of newspaper or trash bags on your dye table. If you have a dedicated dyeing table, you can skip this step. Lay sheets of plastic wrap over your work surface. You want to cover an area of about 2 feet by 3 feet. Overlap the sheets of plastic wrap by at least 4 inches. Using the same jars from earlier, prepare the day in the same method used for the immersion dye process.
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Gently squeeze out the excess water from one skein of Bisque yarn and lay it out on top of the plastic wrap. Spread the yarn out in one even layer.
Use a foam brush to apply the Pistachio dye onto the undyed skein. Hand-painting yarn is an organic process. Apply the dye in sections around the skein, taking care to lift up and paint the underside of each section as well.
Continue to apply the dye in the remaining two colors to the skein. Once all the dye has been applied to the yarn, wrap it up in the plastic wrap. There should be enough excess plastic wrap around the edges to fold it over and wrap the dyed yarn inside. If you do not have enough plastic wrap for this, lay additional sheets of plastic wrap over the top of the dyed yarn.
Place your steaming rack in the bottom of your dye pot and fill the bottom with a one-inch layer of water. Place your dyed yarn bundle on the plastic wrap. Put the lid on the pot and set the heat to medium-high. Allow the yarn to steam set for at least 30-45 minutes. Allow the yarn to cool fully before rinsing it with cool water and hanging it to dry.
Seeing all three skeins side by side, they each look different even though they were all created with the same three colors! There are many more ways to create multicolored blends on your yarn, and we have them here for you on the blog. Check out our other tutorials and tag us on social media using @knomad_yarn and #knomadyarn. We can’t wait to see what you make!