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Breaking Out the Dye Pot

I promised I would share my adventures in dyeing with you and that’s what today’s post is all about.


Of course, the first step is not all that fun – measuring out the skeins! I got out my skein winder and niddy noddy and set to measuring off 500 yard skeins of fingering weight yarn from Henry’s Attic. I bought these skeins right after the last time I dyed because I was desperate to dye some more and Knit Picks was sold out of their dye-your-own yarn back then. The jokes on me because if I had been more patient I could have had pre-measured skeins in plenty of time — the last time I dyed was a whole year ago! Anyway, I made up two 500 yard skeins, soaked them in water and vinegar for a while and then I headed for the garage.


Yes, that’s right – I now have a dyeing area in my garage. I can mix and measure and set everything up out there. I still have to use my kitchen stove for setting the dyes but I’m hoping to change that soon, too. One location dyeing will be mine! So here you can see my measuring cups and dyes and utensils and good stuff like that. You can’t see my rubber gloves and face mask because I’m already wearing them. Safety first, you know.


The first skein of yarn I did was handpainted with brown, green and blue. I wanted something that reminded me of my maple trees when the leaves first come out. Handpainting yarn is very simple. I put down plastic wrap and lay out the pre-wetted skein on that. Then I just squirt away with my colors. Once I’ve got it all painted I wrap it all up in the plastic and then steam it in a big kettle for about an hour.


I’m very happy with the results of this one. The green is exactly the color I was hoping for and the brown really does remind me of tree bark. The blue is a bit brighter than the sky but that’s okay by me.


I used the immersion method for the second skein of yarn. I mixed up 2 teaspoons of “turkey red” powdered dye with 4 teaspoons of vinegar and a cup of water. I put the skein of yarn into the dye pot full of water first then poured the dye on top. I only stirred a teeny bit because I wanted the red to be a bit mottled and not evenly dyed. I set this on the stove and let it simmer for an hour or so.


I’m pretty happy with the results of this one, too. There are a couple of spots where I had the skeins tied a little tight and the dye didn’t penetrate as well as it should have but I think that will make for more interesting knitting so I don’t mind too much.

The whole thing only took the better part of a morning. You can bet I’ll be dyeing again soon!

This Post Has 57 Comments

  1. Looks like you had a lot of fun ….. the red turned out very well. Will the maple tree skein be self-striping?

  2. Nice outcome! Love both skeins- the reds are wonderfully vibrant. I couldn’t help but notice, but you use your Longaberger for dyeing?? (lower left corner of middle photo)

  3. I really like the red. I did some dyeing myself over the holiday weekend. That first step is the worst! Great colors!

  4. i love them. and i’m going to dye soon too. this summer. unfortunately i don’t have a designated area.

  5. LOVE the red. It is fun to dye and see what will happen. I’m all about the curiosity factor. You did a great job!

  6. You did a great job. I really like dyeing too — I still have to try out the dyes I bought last year at NH and I have plenty of undyed sock yarn.

  7. Excellent tutorial. But, wow, measuring off TWO 500 yard skeins on your niddy noddy must have taken quite a while. How are your biceps? lol
    I’m jealous that you have a dye barn.

  8. I really really like the red – it’s almost glowing!

    Would one of those electric eyes (I don’t remember their real name, but they look like a little stove eye but plug into the wall) get hot enough to cook yarn? If I ever dye again, I’d like to have the entire thing happen not in the kitchen too.

  9. uh oh… I see a new branch of this already addictive hobby in my future. This looks like too much fun! I love the kettle dyed look of the red.

  10. Both of the skeins look great. Dyeing is so much fun but, I agree, measuring out skeins is no fun. I told my dh that I want a skeinwinder that will keep track of yardage for my upcoming anniversary.

  11. But hey – the Henry’s Attic yarn is MUCH better quality than the Knit Picks, even if it requires a bit more prep…

  12. I love the blue, green, brown skein and if you ever want to get rid of it I’ll send my address hahaha. Thanks for the tutorial. Have a great day. sandy

  13. They both look great! I am particularly drawn to the red one – it looks like rubies! …and it is good timing for Project Spectrum too, the red month is here!

  14. I’m envious of your dye spot in the garage for sure!! I could set something up in my basement but I’d rather be in your garage. hehe

    Beautiful colors! I can’t wait to see it knit up! 🙂

  15. Your handpaints are beautiful! I think that dyeing is like ordering food in a Chinese restaurant—it doesn’t matter how much thought you put into it, everyone else’s always looks better than what you get. Did you use Cushing’s dyes?

  16. Love the Maple Tree yarn! Have you ever tried reskeining after your yarn is dry? I’ve heard that in several dye classes and am always amazed at how it changes the yarn. I have a temp set-up in the basement, but no water supply and only a crockpot for heat. Will have to work on that!

  17. Nice job! I keep wanting to do a little dyeing on the weekend, but then I remember that I have to do dishes first so I can get to the sink. So I just do somethng else.

  18. That handpainted skein really does look like spring. And the red is so… red, like my favorite red shirt that I am wearing today.

    I was thinking I should break out the dye pot… maybe even tomorrow.

  19. Oooo, fantastic! That brown/green/blue is gorgeous and the semi-solid of the red should indeed make great knitting. I can’t wait to watch them grow up into a knit FO!

  20. Soon being sometime within the next year or the next month? =) I love the handpainted skein, well I love the red one too. Seeing your gorgeous yarn makes me want to get some dye and get busy. Oh, why isn’t there more time in the day?

  21. I was going to say that dyeing is addictive, but if it’s been a year since your last dye session, I guess that wouldn’t be exactly right!

    It is fun, though!

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