Explorations in Yarn Dyeing

November 21, 2016

Even before I learned how to knit I would see hand-dyed yarn at some of my favorite fabric boutiques and I’d marvel at it. I loved the variations in colors and stripes and always wondered what type of wizardry one would need to create such cool fiber. Now that I can knit and have been dealing with repetitive stress injuries, I’m even more motivated to try new things and explore new ways to express myself creatively. I wanted to find a way to feed my passion for knitting, even when I can’t physically knit. Well I finally stopped marveling from afar and started doing the research and the work. I’ve learned the basics of the Yarn Wizardry that is dyeing at home! Last month I bought a Craftsy class on sale, one that promised to get me started with yarn dyeing and today I wanted to share a little peek at my efforts.


The class is very appropriately named Professional Yarn Dyeing at Home and as someone who had zero clue how to go about dyeing yarn like the pros do it, I can’t recommend this class highly enough. Though the instructor, Sarah Eyre, lists some pretty in depth formulas for some of her company’s most popular colors, I found watching her basic fundamental technique the most valuable. Now I know how variegated colors, semi-solids, and wild stripes occur and it’s SO FUN to experiment with different colors.


After working through the entire class and trying each technique, I have an array of solid, semi-solid, variegated, and speckled yarns to add to my stash. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good grasp on kettle dyeing but my speckles need work. Getting the heat just right is tricky, especially when trying to use a shallow roasting pan on the stove top.


I also tried over-dyeing some yarn that I bought a while ago. Aqua blue is one of my favorite colors but I’m learning I don’t like to wear it too close to my face because it washes me out. I knew I wanted to go for something warmer so I tried a deep rust orange over the aqua.


I dyed it in a big stock pot using the veil technique and I love the result! It’s now mostly rusty orange with hints of olive green and some of the aqua still coming through. I love it!


I think I was a bit too aggressive with the two skeins of Stonehedge since it’s not superwash wool and the fiber feels scratchier after being exposed to high heat. I still have a lot to learn but I’m having so much fun in the process. Even my “Whoops!” skeins look really pretty!


So that’s a quick little peek at what I’ve been up to, especially for those who saw some of my yarn on Instagram and wanted to know how I got started. Since dealing with tendinitis I’ve been exploring more, less physically taxing ways to get creative with knitting and sewing. When my wrists hurt too much to sit down and do a lot of knitting, it feels great to dye some yarn and know I’m still creating something with my hands.

Even if I can’t knit all this yarn myself, I have plenty of friends who will really appreciate some hand-dyed yarn to add to their own stash. As long as I’m making things with my hands and using what I make (or knowing others are using what I’ve made) I still feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I’ve struggled a lot this year with repetitive stress injuries and how much it’s affected me not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well.

If you’re dealing with similar issues, whether it’s limited mobility or even limited time, don’t be too hard on yourself. Always keep on making or learn new things to make and all will be well!

But back to my initial message: Don’t be scared of yarn dyeing if you’ve always wanted to try it. It will take me time and practice before I’d consider selling yarn I’ve dyed but it was much easier to get started than I originally thought!