Quick, Fun Dyeing for Beginners:


Step 1  Wet the yarn in lukewarm water. This causes the fibers to swell and absorb color more readily. If possible, soak the yarn for at least 20 minutes.

Step 2   Prepare your dyepot. A general rule of thumb is to use 30 parts liquid to 1 part fiber. So if you're dyeing one ounce of fiber, you'll want 30 ounces of water, or a little under one quart. For this experiment, simply use enough water to cover the fiber without swamping it.

Step 3   Add dye and let it dissolve completely. With these types of dyes, you'll get a pretty good idea of the dye intensity as you add the powder. I added my dyes in quarter-teaspoon increments so I could better control the results.

Don't worry about getting everything exact at first. Just pick a color and pour a packet of it into the water. If you want more intensity, double the dosage. The more yarn you dye, the more color you'll need.

Step 4   This is an optional step. Add a dash of vinegar to the dye water, which will help the fiber more readily absorb the dye.

Step 5   Bring the water to a low simmer, just below a boil.

Step 6   Add the fiber and stir immediately to ensure even dye distribution.

Step 7   Let the mixture simmer just below a boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until the water is clear. If the water still remains tinted, add a dash of vinegar and let it simmer for five more minutes.

Step 8   Lift the yarn from your dye pot and place it in another pot filled with hot water. Swirl the yarn in the water and rinse until the water runs clear. Squeeze out excess moisture and lay the yarn outside to dry.

Next: arrow  Creative variations on this technique

Previous: arrow  Dye workshop: Create your own Kool-Aid colors

     Hand-dyed yarns from Ellen's 1/2-Pint Farm
Hand-painted yarns from Ellen's 1/2-Pint Farm

Quick steps
  • Wet the yarn
  • Put water in pot
  • Add dye
  • Add vinegar
  • Heat water
  • Add yarn
  • Simmer until color is fully absorbed
  • Rinse
  • Air dry
Additional Resources
arrow Reading List

arrow Introduction to Natural Dyeing

arrow Barbara M. Harris Pruitt's Kool-Aid Dye Color Chart

arrow Gallery of Kool Aid-Dyed Yarns

Where to Buy Natural Dye Kits
arrow Carol Leigh’s Natural Dye Kits for Natural Fibers

arrow Earthues / Color Trends Natural Dye Extract Kit

Where to Buy Natural Dyes (pick your own)
arrow Hillcreek Fiber Studio

arrow The Mannings Handweaving School and Supply Center

Where to Buy Acid Dyes
arrow One-Step Country Classic Dyes

arrow Wash Fast Acid Dyes