Yarn Dyeing Tutorial

Today, I dyed yarn in my apartment! I felt like today would be a perfect day, because none of my roommates happened to be in the room today, but two of them came in over the course of the dyeing. One of them came in while the yarn was soaking in vinegar and heating up, and she thought it was spaghetti.

So here’s the way I dyed my yarn in my college apartment kitchen!
You need:
  • Animal fiber yarn (I used KnitPicks Bare Stroll Fingering Sock Yarn– at least 75% animal fiber is best when attempting to dye yarn)
  • Vinegar (I guess at this.)
  • White cotton yarn to tie the animal fiber yarn
  • Kool-Aid in your choice of color (I chose to use Pink Lemonade and Lemonade)
  • A large pot
  • A spoon that lets you pick up the yarn
  • A large bowl
  • A large cup. The ones you get from sports games are the best.
First thing first: if the yarn isn’t already in a hank, you have to wrap it up! I used two chairs in my room. The KnitPicks yarn already came in a hank, but I wanted long stripes, so I rewound it to be longer. This takes a long time if the yarn tangles up. I learned that the hard way… Every few inches, take a string of cotton yarn and wrap it around the yarn. Don’t wrap or tie it too tightly, or you’ll end up with a white line where the tie was. Unless you want that line there. Your choice.

It should look something like this! See where the white ties are? 
Next, I filled a pot with hot water from the sink and poured in the vinegar. The vinegar is to make the Kool-Aid stick to the yarn quicker. Feel free to go without it, but I always use vinegar. Then squish the yarn into the pot, making sure it doesn’t overflow. Turn your stove to medium-low (about a 4 on my stove) and let the yarn soak and heat up for about 45 minutes.
When the 45 minutes is almost up, prepare your Kool-Aid! I used Lemonade first. I took a cup and filled it with warm water. Whatever you do, do not put cold water into that cup. Because your yarn is 1) hot from the stove and 2) animal fiber, anything cold may shock the fibers and cause them to felt. It hasn’t happened to me yet, but you really want to have the water in the cup as close to the temperature in the pot. Decide how much water to Kool-Aid you want. I used a larger cup, so I filled it up about 3/4ths of the way and mixed a packet of Kool-Aid into that. Every time you want to add a color, 3/4ths of the cup and one packet. That’s my ratio.
Now take about half the yarn hank out of the pot and place it in the large bowl. Don’t leave it hanging, or there will be a huge puddle everywhere. That’s a pain to clean up.
I poured in two cupfuls of Lemonade Kool-Aid and let that soak for 30-45 minutes. You’ll know the yarn’s soaked up all the Kool-Aid when you scoop up some water with your spoon and it comes out clear. Pour in more, if you wish. To get the yellow color, I used 6 packets of Lemonade. Lemonade produces a really weak yellow, so I always use more than I usually do in order to get a nice vibrant color.
I usually pour in the dye two cups at a time. Every time there’s to be new color, I turn the yarn over so that the color gets to the yarn that may have been at the bottom before. It provides a nice even color.
Now that yellow is done, I pick up the yarn using my trusty spoon and put it into the blue bowl with the as of yet undyed yarn. Pour out the water, because it will have inevitably been sucked into it. Now take out the undyed section and put that into the water, making sure not to burn yourself. Make sure you get to where the lemonade color starts; otherwise, there’s an awkward gap of undyed yarn. Now pour in the 2 cupfuls of Pink Lemonade and let that soak for 30-45 minutes. Pink is much more powerful, so if you don’t want such an intense pink, don’t put in so much! I used 4 packets of Pink Lemonade.
Kind of reminds you of Easter, doesn’t it?
When the yarn is where you want it to be, take it out and put it into the bowl. Leave it to cool down for a little, because it will be really hot, and you need to be able to handle it for the next part. Is it cool? Good! Take it under the sink (making sure the water temperature isn’t too extreme) and wash your yarn. Then try to squeeze out all the water you can, because you need to put it somewhere to dry. You don’t want it dripping a lot, do you? It will drip a bit, but now that you’ve squeezed out excess water, you’re good.
Ideally, hanging it up outside would be best, but since it’s becoming cold, the yarn won’t dry as quickly. My bathroom is the best bet for this guy. When it’s done drying, wind it up into a hank. I used the handles on my desk to produce a small, fat hank of pink yellow yarn. I’ve always been in the habit of using my desk. Nice to see I can use it here too.
I’ve nicknamed this one ‘Lemonade’ because of the Kool-Aid colors I used. Not very creative, I know.
While I was dyeing the yarn, another roommate stared at it for a few minutes while she was eating. Finally, she asked me, “How come you don’t just buy yellow yarn?”
“It’s not as fun that way,” I said, and it really isn’t. Dyeing yarn gives you the power to create whatever color yarn you want. It lets you control everything! It’s a very relaxing pursuit minus the winding up of things. That still manages to irritate me at times.
And here it is! My method of using a pot to dye yarn in! I’ve seen this used with a microwaveable casserole dish, too. I don’t have a casserole dish to try this method with, but feel free to give it a shot, using what you know.



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