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!