A few nights ago I went to check out my FAVORITE YouTuber, The Frugal Crafter. (Seriously, she’s amazing so I’ll wait while you go check her out and subscribe!)
One of her latest tutorials was on how to dye acrylic yarn!! Okay…I’ll admit; I was skeptical. But she’s SO convincing and charismatic and so gosh darn infectious with her energy that I knew I needed to try it on my own to see if it was indeed true!
And guess what you guys… IT IS!!
Actually, the term ‘DYE’ is misleading (because you are literally painting your yarn) but the process is the same and the results are nothing short of spectacular.
There are a couple of tips I’d like to tack onto her tutorial if you are thinking about doing this on your own so here we go!
The first thing you need is yarn. Think LIGHT colored yarn here. Anything dark won’t work properly. I went with plain old Red Heart Super Saver in White. I’m sure you guys all have random end yarn balls of larger skeins lying around like I do to experiment on, right?!?!
Wind your yarn into a hank and tie it off in a couple of places so that it won’t knot on you during the process. TIP #1: Use a DARK piece of scrap yarn to tie off your hank so that it’s simple to find after the hank has been dyed!
Soak your yarn in some warm water to get it ready to dye (I used an old upcycled ice cream container to soak, dye, dry, and wash my yarn). Once it’s good and wet, gently squeeze the water out so that it’s wet but not dripping and drain your excess water:
Now you are ready to mix your color! You can use any acrylic paint you have on hand for this step. The trick is to mix the color you want and then add in water to it to dilute. (The more water you use, the less crunchy your dyed yarn will be when it finishes drying–but more about that later).
The video tutorial shows a ratio of about 1/2 water to 1/2 paint but you don’t need to overdo the paint to get amazing color. What you see in the photo above is a squirt of yellow, a smaller squirt of blue, and a bunch of water. TIP #2: The resulting color of the paint mixture stayed surprisingly true throughout the dying process and the finished colorway in the yarn I dyed was all varying shades (from light to dark) of the color in the tray above.
Keep in mind that the shade you dye your yarn will end up being variegated! The process of gravity when it dries will pull the color toward the bottom of your yarn leaving the top a lighter shade.
Next comes the fun part! Put on an old pair of rubber gloves, protect your work surface from rogue splatters, and then just dump your color over your yarn!
Get your hands in there and start massaging the color through the yarn. Make sure you get the yarn under your ties as well!
Once you’re happy with it, all that is left to do is to gently squeeze out the excess paint and water mixture from your hank and hang up to dry. For this process I hung one of the ties from a plastic clothing hanger and left if on the knob of my kitchen cabinet to drip into the ice cream container.
Depending on your climate (and how much yarn you’ve dyed) this could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It’s important to let your yarn dry completely otherwise it will not set and will fade when washing. TIP #3: I’m not gonna lie…you’ll notice that your yarn smells like a freshly painted wall when wet. That smell will almost completely vanish when the yarn is dry and will disappear altogether when your project (or your hank) is washed.
After your yarn is dry, you can opt to wind it into a ball and start working with it right away OR you can keep it in the hank and give it a good rinse in your bucket. TIP #4: The rinsing stage is important to soften your yarn back up and clear up any remaining paint odor.
I opted to wind mine and get started right away because I couldn’t wait any longer to see how it crocheted!
Now, back to that ‘crunchy’ yarn I told you about earlier. The darker end of your dyed yarn tends to be a little stiffer than the lighter end, and that’s because all the paint has settled on that end. It’s fine to crochet with (although a touch stiff) but it doesn’t come off on your hands or on other yarns you’re working.
If you’ve waited to rinse your yarn (like I did), after you’ve finished your project is the best time to either throw it into a washing machine or wash by hand if it’s small enough. TIP #5: I do NOT recommend sending out any completed project to a customer (or using a completed project yourself) that contains dyed acrylic yarn that hasn’t been washed first.
I filled my bucket with some warm soapy water and used my hands to agitate my swatches:
As you can see, the color is permanent and gorgeous! The yarn is also soft (no crunch!) and odor free after a quick rinse!
I can see ALL sorts of practical applications for using my own dyed yarn in my projects and just the idea that you don’t have to spend a TON of money on hand dyed natural fibers opens up a whole new world for me (and I hope it does for you as well!)
The possibilities are endless! Just keep in mind that once your dyed yarn is used up, it will probably be impossible to match it again–unless you’re the meticulous type who writes detailed notes on your color process–so make sure you dye enough to get you through your projects and have fun!
If you’ve dyed some acrylic yarn and want to show it off, come find me on my facebook page to share!! I’d love to see your work!
And much love to The Frugal Crafter for having the sort of genius mind to think outside of the box and the spirit to try new things and share!
STITCH TUTORIAL UPDATE!!
Since so many of you have asked me about the stitch used in my swatch, I thought I would post it here for you guys so you can all tackle it and turn it into amazing crochet projects of your own!
Diagonal Post Swatch
Skill Level: Intermediate
Stitches you need to know:
FPtr: Front Post Triple Crochet: YO twice, insert hook from front to back around post of indicated stitch, YO and pull up a loop, [YO and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times (FPtr made).
BPtr: Back Post Triple Crochet: YO twice, insert hook from back to front around post of indicated stitch, YO and pull up a loop, [YO and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times (BPtr made).
The beauty of this stitch is that you can control where you want your color changes to begin and how many colors you want to use. Change to a new color after every row or alternate colors as I have done in the photo above. You could also choose to only change color when you work a post stitch! The color variations are endless and completely up to you!
Stitch Multiple: 4 +1
Row 1 (wrong side): Dc in 4th chain from hook (skipped chains count as dc), dc in next chain and in each chain across, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.
Row 2 (right side): Ch 3 (counts as a dc here and throughout pattern), dc in next 2 dc, *FPtr in next dc, dc in next 3 dc, repeat from * across, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.
Row 3: Ch 3, *dc in next 3 dc, BPtr in next dc, repeat from * across to last 2 dc, dc in next dc, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.
Row 4: Ch 3, *FPtr in next dc, dc in next 3 dc, repeat from * across to last 2 dc, FPtr in next dc, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn,
Row 5: Ch 3, dc in next dc, *BPtr in next dc, dc in next 3 dc, repeat from * across to turning chain, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.
Repeat rows 2-5 to desired length.