Yarn dyeing

Steam dyeing yarn – Experiment #1

Attention: This post is image-heavy.

I have always been intrigued with hand-dyeing yarn. Mixing colors, creating a unique skein, colored to my own liking. However, I was reluctant to try, imagining how much work it is, and how time-consuming it is.

But I could stay away from that forever. First, I have done some research to find the best method, and have decided to settle on steam dyeing, especially since I have a steaming pot.

I have purchased dyes (of a Polish firm – Kakadu). I wanted my skeins to be colorful, very colorful even.


I have also purchased a special yarn for dyeing Zitron Atelier – Trekking, which is 75% wool and 25% nylon. Yarn for dyeing needs mostly consist of wool. I have used acrylic white yarn to tie the skeins and that yarn didn’t catch any color despite being treated the same way as Trekking. One thing about this yarn that you must know – it does not smell nice. Be prepared for that. The smell persisted despite the yarn being rinsed with dish soap and Perwoll Wool & Silk washing liquid. In desperation, I sprayed it with water mixed with dish soap (apple smell) as the yarn was drying. That finally did the trick and the yarn smells, maybe not wonderfully, but definitely tolerable.


I have gathered all needed supplies:

  • latex gloves;
  • jars for mixing dyes;
  • vinegar – needed for the dyes and for rinsing yarn after dying to lock the color in;
  • foil for wrapping the yarn;
  • paper towels – lots and lots of them;
  • dishcloth that I cut into pieces to apply dyes to the yarn;
  • yarn;
  • dyes;
  • aluminium tins, which I used to soak the yarn – they did the trick, but failed me on the last rinse and I had to deal with a very minor flooding on the bathroom floor, or next time, I plan to buy metal vats like the ones for ice-cream.



Step 1 – soaking

I have soaked the yarn for half an hour in water with dish soap using the aluminum tins (I strongly recommend to use metal ones, operating flexible tins full of water was not easy).


Step 2 – preparing dyes

The dyes I used needed to be mixed with hot water and vinegar (about 6 spoons each). I mixed them with wooden chopsticks. It allowed me to see the approximate color that I would get out of that dye and after mixing I could just throw them away.

At this stage, I had to be careful, because

a) I was working with hot water;

b) I did not want to get the dye everywhere, especially on the white tabletop, hence I prepared my workstation  by covering it with paper towels and wrapping it in foil.


Step 3 – preparing yarn for dyeing

I have rinsed the yarn, cut the dishcloth into convenient pieces, one for each jar, placed a piece of the foil on the table and placed the yarn on it.


Step 4 – dyeing

The most enjoyable albeit most time-consuming part of the whole process. I have applied the dye to the yarn, color by color with the dishcloth, making sure that the yarn was dyed all the way through and that I wasn’t leaving any clean spots.


Step 5 – steaming

I have then wrapped the yarn in foil and placed it in the steaming pot. I left it in there for an hour, turning it every 15 minutes to ensure an even distribution of heat, but not more often to avoid felting.


Step 6 – taking the yarn out and soaking/rinsing it

Here is the yarn after steaming. I have then soaked it in water until the water was clean (it took multiple changes of water), for penultimate soak, I added vinegar and left yarn in it for 30 minutes. I have added Perwoll to the last soak. I left it to dry overnight. Some part of the skein were still wet in the morning and it took them several more hours to dry completely.


And here are the dry skeins. I was really happy with the results, but also very curious how they would look in knitted samples.


Therefore, I have spun them by hand into balls and knitted samples. A longer one for one of the balls and shorter ones for the other two. I am excited and really happy with what I have made, I will definitely do it again.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s