My First Try at Hand Dyed Yarn

I'm a painter......but I might convert over to hand dyeing yarn!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a yarn dyeing kit from Knit Picks on a sale whim. I have been wanting to try dyeing yarn for some time now. It seemed silly to buy a bunch of different dyes and supplies in order to get started. What if I don't like it / suck at it? A whole dye set would be incredibly wasteful. Knit Picks has a kit (currently sold out!) that includes small samples of 9 colors, three skeins of yarn, and a how-to book. This is the perfect taster kit.


Ombre yarn! The main characteristic of ombre yarn is it's really long sections of color gradually changing hues throughout the skein. Freia Handpainted yarn is a spectacular example of ombre yarn. It's so luscious! The Twist Collective has a fantastic example of ombre yarn in this sweater. I can't find this type of color change i any yarn available in Australia! Help, someone call me out on how wrong I am.

Image from:

Image from:

So yes, that is my life goal for dyeing.

Let's Do This

Today was my first attempt.

There are several posts on blogs about using lots of pots with a bunch of stove top burners in order to dye different hues. I don't have the luxury or the desire to have a separate pot set reserved for dyeing. Not yet anyway. Perhaps one day I will go to the thrift store for more pots. For now, glass jars and a double boiler did just fine.

Supply List

  • Greener Shades Dye
  • Citric Acid
  • 8 recycled glass jars from food
  • 1/4 teaspoon
  • 9"x13" brownie pan
  • 2 wooden spoons
  • canvas tarp
  • large pot
  • 1 skein Knit Picks Bare Stroll Fingering (4ply) Sock Yarn (75% merino 25% nylon)
  • 1 skein Knit Picks Bear Wool of the Andes Worsted (10ply) (100% Peruvian Highland Wool)

Dye Batch 1

The first batch used the Bare Stroll, Coral Reef Aqua pigment, River Blue pigment, and Amethyst Purple pigment.

I attempted to go from Cora Reef Aqua to a River Blue/Amethyst Purple mix in four stops. I used 2% DOS (Depth of Shade) to make two jars of each color dissolved in 1 c of water each. These two were then split up across the middle two jars. More specifically, I ended up with the following.

  • 1st jar of 100% c.r. aqua
  • 2nd jar of 70% c.r. aqua and 30% r. blue / a. purple
  • 3rd jar of 30% c.r. aqua and 70% r. blue / a. purple
  • 4th jar of 100% r. blue / a. purple

At the end, all of my water ran clear! Whatever amounts were added, something must have gone right.

I'm pretty happy with the finished product. It's not exactly an ombre colorway, but the blues are lovely.

In hindsight, I wish I had used less River Blue and Amethyst Purple in the two mixes. It overpowered the Coral Reef Aqua. Also, it would have been much better to have more gradations between the two ends.

Dye Batch 2

I had to try a second time before cleaning up, right? Right. I only had one more skein ready to go. This was the KnitPicks Bear Wool of the Andes Worsted (10ply) (100% Peruvian Highland Wool). This was split into 8 sections. Initially I miscounted and thought I only had 7 sections, which resulted in a last minute addition of a color. The colors used were Coral Reef Aqua, Amazon Green, Sunset Orange, Sunshine Yellow, Ruby Red, and River Blue. Here are the color mixes:

  • 1st jar of an unknown mix of s. orange / a. green / c.r. aqua (random added color)
  • 2nd jar of 80% c.r. aqua 20% amazon green (beginning mix)
  • 3rd jar of 80% c.r. aqua / a. green and 20% s. yellow / r. red / a. green (gradient)
  • 4th jar of 20% c.r. aqua / a. green and 80% s. yellow / r. red / a. green (gradient)
  • 5th jar of 70% s. yellow 20% r. red 10% a. green (beginning mix)
  • 6th jar of 90% s. yellow / r. red / a. green and 10% r. blue / r. red / s. yellow (gradient)
  • 7th jar 70% s. yellow / r. red / a. green and 30% e. blue / r. red / s. yellow (gradient)
  • 8th jar of 20% r. blue 40% r. red 40% s. yellow (beginning mix)

Instead of trying to end up with a total of 1/4 tsp dye between all of the jars... Note: this would give me ~a 2% DOS. I decided to try and get a total of 1 tsp pigment in each of the three starter color mixes (jars 2, 5, 8). I still couldn't accurately measure 4/64th's of a teaspoon. Let's be fair, the smallest measuring spoon I have is 1/4. Basically I estimated, trying to keep the ratios the same while eyeballing the amounts added.

These are my colors!!!!

I dyed two of the three skeins, from the kit, this morning and have plenty of dye left over. I am so happy with how this second batch turned out.

Notes to future self

  • Use a lot of gradient stops. The more small skeins the better.
  • Dye a lot of yarn at a time. This way you won't waste dye. ... Then again, you will have to find bigger containers than the little glass food jars. Which is more wasteful? Don't be wasteful.
  • You must get more yarn immediately!


Did you notice what sweater I am wearing in the first photo? I finally finished knitting my Briggs Street pullover with my hand dyed, hand spun! I guess it makes sense that I am wearing it while I try to dye yarn on my own for the first time. Here's another photo of the sweater. It's super comfy!

Lots and Lots of Knitting

I love beginning new knitting projects. Finishing them is another story. Ravelry, the knitters online community, constantly gives me new ideas. When I began knitting, I thought I would consume less because of the amount of time needed to complete a single garment. However, if you let me into a yarn store, I feel the luscious fibers, and I will come away with a lot of yarn!

Lately, there is a lot of yarn sitting around the house. The yarn doesn't just sit around in skeins. Oh no, I have 6 projects in the works at the moment...

Ziyal by Allison Goldthorpe is a free pattern on Ravelry. I bought this Misti Alpaca yarn in Tasmania and have struggled to find a project for it. This is a prime example of the yarn impulse buy. If there is one thing I have learned in my years of knitting, it is that one skein is rarely enough yarn for any project. Walk away, better yet run away if there is only one skein of that dye lot left in the store. Unless of course you want to make socks.

Socks, like Tin Can Knits Rye pattern, are a fantastic way to use up that extra ball of yarn from your last project. I am terrified of running out of yarn before the end of a project. It often takes me three months to make a sweater. I do not, on the home stretch, want to find out that I need one more ball and that colorway is sold out throughout Australia! So I often buy an extra 200 meters or yards of yarn just in case. So, I generally have leftovers. Check out some sock patterns. They are quick projects and super comfy!

I had a whole bunch of uneven handspun yarn sitting around the house. Did I mention that I tried spinning? It went alright. Spinning creates a lot of yarn fairly quickly, but leaves little time for knitting. I found more skeins were piling up in my stash. Again, not the best when I was trying to cut down on my general consumption. My handspun yarn is not the most even throughout. I chose Briggs Street by Dawn Catanzaro (Quince & Co.). This pattern let me use my handspun and even it out a bit with a contrasting color. I love Manos del Uruguay yarn!

We're not done yet. What is that, 3 projects? Holy moly, three more to go.

Maeve by Carrie Bostick Hoge - nice name by the way! - will be a fantastic sweater once it is finished. It is very very monotonous knitting. If you are looking for your first no-sweat-er, this is it! It is quick and easy. Lately, I like a little challenge, which this pattern doesn't supply. Therefore, it has been sitting on the shelf for a few months.

Did I just say that I wanted complicated? I take it back! I take it all back! This sweater has been my nemesis for two years. I have frogged it (taken it all out, every last stitch until I have balls of yarn again) twice. The pattern is not entirely hard to understand. It's just hard to see where you are at on the sweater if you don't constantly write it down. I often forget to write it down. Regardless, I will finish the Maija Pullover, Mari Muinonen, by the time I fly back to the sates for Christmas. Hold me to that.

Finally, ah we made it! We have the Summit Shawl by Mandi Harrington. I love this pattern. It incorporates a mix of eyelet holes created by an entrelac-ish pattern and dropped stitches. The only problem is, the yarn is itty bitty thin which means progress is slow going. I've been working on this project for roughly four years and plan to have a good portion of it done in the next four. I make no guarantees about actually finishing it.

I haven't looked at all of the projects together until today. I will finish at least some of these by the end of the month!

Do you like the bags that I keep my projects in? I make them! Head over to my Etsy shop and take a look at what's available.