I have thrown myself into several kinds of craft- sewing, embroidery, pasta making, and pretty much everything else. However, I always shied away from dyeing things; whether it was tie dye or dyeing yarn for a special project, I was terrified. Have no fear, though, it is actually quite simple! Below is my simply easy how-to on dyeing wool yarn a solid color with Rit Dye. Later on this week, I’ll be featuring how to variate the colors, and how to dye cotton.
- Liquid Rit Dye in colors of choice (I used Lemon and Fuchsia in this tutorial)
- Zip Ties
- Gloves (unless you want colorful hands, no judging here)
- Measuring cup…. Buy a separate one that will no longer be used for food purposes
- Microwave safe bowl… Once again, this should not be used for food
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Wool Yarn (for good color absorbance, yarn content needs to be at least 75% wool)
- Mild detergent/ soap
- Optional- a towel to aide in drying the yarn
- Optional- hair conditioner
Step 1: Turn the Skein Into a Hank
For those that have never made a hank of yarn before, this is actually incredibly easy. Using the back of a chair (make sure there is no ridges at the top of the chair so that the yarn can be eased off), wind the skein around until desired yardage is reached. If you have a swift or a niddy doddy, that is also acceptable for unwinding the skein. I have also used the edge of a table before. My hank is 100 yards in length. Before removing the hank, zip tie the yarn in a figure 8 configuration to ensure there are no tangles in the dyeing process. Depending on the size of the hank, more zip ties may be needed. To be safe, I used 4. Some people also use scrap yarn to tie their hank- use whatever is preferred!
Step 2: Relax the Fibers
To get a more even color absorbance, the fibers should be soaked before adding the dye. Place the yarn into the microwave safe bowl. Since this is wool, use COLD water. Allow the yarn to soak for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Let’s Get Dyeing!
Now that the fibers are relaxed, it is time to add the dye (wear gloves when handling the dye). Add dye straight to the water that is already in the bowl. To get the grapefruit colored one pictured at the beginning of this article, I added 3 ounces of Lemon Rit Dye and 1 ounce of Fuchsia Rit Dye. Make sure the yarn is completely covered in water- if it’s not, add water as needed.
Microwave the yarn for 3 minutes. Let the water sit for 2 minutes. Microwave for an additional 2 minutes. Once the water is hot (do not let it boil !!!), add 1 cup of vinegar to promote the dying process. Lay the yarn and bowl on a countertop.
Let the yarn rest until the water is room temperature- this generally takes about an hour or two. After the water is room temp, it’s time to rinse!
Step 4: Rinse, and be Awestruck
Wear gloves when rinsing the yarn. Rinse the yarn with cold tap water until the water runs clear. Lightly hand wash the yarn with a mild detergent (blue Dawn soap), or with hair conditioner. Rinse again. Squeeze as much of the water out as possible. Squeezing the yarn between 2 sides of a towel can also help with drying the yarn. Hang the yarn from one of the zip ties in the yard or in the shower tub until completely dry.
Once the yarn is dry, tie the ends of the yarn around the hank to prevent unraveling and tangling. Cut the zip ties. Twist the hank for storage, and it is finished! I hope this method on dyeing wool yarn with Rit Dye was simple, and I would love to see what you have created!