Space Dyed Yarn

Indie dyed variegated yarns and rovings are all the rage now and they are easier to create at home than you might think. Create your own bright or subtle variegated yarns and rovings with this easy technique. You will soon have unique one-of-a-kind colorways for all your projects.

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Let's get started!

Getting started

Let's Get Started!

Using the cotton twine, tie your skein loosely in a few more places; you want at least 4 ties around the skein to help keep it organized and untangled.

Get skein ready

Fill the bucket or dish tub with warm tap water, a drop or two of Synthrapol and Citric Acid/Vinegar. Use 1 TBS of Citric Acid per quart of water or if you are using vinegar use 50/50 water to vinegar in the soak as vinegar is more dilute. (Ex: 1 cup water to 1 cup Vinegar) Lower the skein into the water by one of the ties and gently push it down under the water with the large spoon. Let it soak at least 1 hour, but overnight is ideal, especially for finer fibers like alpaca and silk. You want the fibers to be completely soaked.

Mix detergent, warm water, citric acid/vinegar

Lower skein in

Use the salad spinner or the dryer to spin out excess soak water until the yarn is just damp to the touch.

Cover your work space with plastic wrap; be sure to overlap a couple pieces as you are going to wrap the yarn in it and you don't want dye to leak out. Lay out the yarn on the plastic wrap.

Cover workspace with plastic wrap

Lay your yarn out flat over the plastic wrap.

Lay yarn out

Mix your dyes with hot tap water, making sure they are fully dissolved, and pour them into the squeeze bottles. Snip the tip of the bottles so the dye flows out easily but not too fast.

Paste up dyes... ...before adding water and putting in bottles


Pro-tip: test this with water if you are using a new bottle before using it to dye.

Wait! How Much Dye Do I Use?

The amount of dye depends on how dark you want your colors. The yarn we used comes in an approximately 150 gram skein. Normally we would want to use 1.5% weight of goods for a solid color, about 2.25 grams of dye. Since we are using four colors we want to divide that to about a ½ gram of dye per color. If you are using black, then use 1 gram of black. This roughly works out to about ¾ tsp per color for a medium shade, in most colors, and 1.5 tsp for black. Use more or less dye for different shades.

Pro-tip: if unsure of how much dye to use, call Dharma! Let us help.

Start applying the dye. Using the squeeze bottles, apply the first color to different areas of the yarn. Only use about half the dye and then go on to the next color.

Start dyeing!

Preplan your design or randomize as you go

Once you have coated one side of the skein, carefully flip the skein over and apply the same colors in the same pattern on the back of the skein. Check to make sure the dye is getting into the center of the skein. You can gently push the yarn around a bit to help the dye penetrate. 

Coat one side completely

Then flip and repeat

Fold the plastic wrap over your yarn/roving length-wise then fold in the ends. If you can, fold the skein in a couple times to make a packet that will fit in your pot for steaming.

Fold up in plastic

Make the bag small enough for your pot

In your steaming pot put a couple inches of water and the steamer basket. Make sure the steamer is going to hold the yarn/roving out of the water. Heat it up to a simmer on high and then turn the heat down. You don't want it to boil away too quickly but you need plenty of steam.

Water simmering and steaming but not boiling away

Place the yarn onto the steaming basket in the steamer and put on the lid. Let it steam for about 45-60 min. You can steam multiple skeins at once, as many as your steamer will hold without stacking them.

Put in pot and cover, keep packet away from water

Let the yarn cool a bit before you unwrap it and let it cool further before rinsing. You don't want to shock the yarn by rinsing it too soon as it can result in felting. Once it is mostly cool, soak it in cool water with a bit of Synthrapol. Do a couple rinse soaks with just plain water. In the last soak you can use some Eucalan Wool Wash to smooth the yarn and make it soft again.

Spin the water out one last time to help the yarn dry faster. Once it is dry you can wind it into a ball and start knitting, crocheting or weaving the project of your dreams. Dye up some more skeins and arrange them in a nice basket in your craft room for inspiration!

Rinse, wash, dry and enjoy!

Finished project 1

Finished project 2


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You can combine cotton and rayon clothing & accessories to get the greatest discounts. Your discount is figured on the total number of cotton and rayon items we ship, not how many of each type, style or size. Mix and match them to get the best discount.

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