Tag Archives: Dyeing

Intro to Dyeing with Idyes

Have you ever heard of idyes? Me, neither! Alison, our fearless Knit Picks Director, tells me that they’re acid dyes (like the kind Kim uses) but have a combination of cellulosic dye (for plant fibers such as cotton) and protein fiber dye (for animal fibers like silk), allowing you to use them on a large range of natural fiber projects. Inside each envelope is a little water-soluble packet (kind of like those dishwasher detergent nuggets) which you just pop into your washing machine and Vwalaa! You’ve dyed your own yarn.  I asked her to describe her process and take some photos. Here we go!


From Alison: “IDye packets can be a nice option for folks who are new to fiber dyeing or those who would like solid color results in a hurry. This week, I wanted a fast, easy dye project that would fit into my schedule and produce a subtle solid colorway, so idyes were perfect! The envelope includes instructions for either stovetop dyeing, or use in your washing machine.  I think the stovetop method produces the easiest, most consistent results, but the washing machine is a nice option for folks who don’t want to use a dedicated dyeing pot for the stovetop method.


Choose Your Yarn + Dye Color and Tie Up Your Skein: “I’ve been so excited about our new Bare Special Reserve yarns. They’re such a great price point for natural fibers and a fun opportunity to play around with different dye techniques. I picked up the Superfine Alpaca because I thought it would really take the idye color (I chose “Gunmetal Grey”), really well.” 


“Tie your skein in a few extra places.  I use a cotton yarn for my ties so that they don’t accidentally slightly felt to the yarn during the dye process.  Don’t tie your strings too tight or the dye won’t be able to penetrate those areas well and your skein might end up looking tie-dyed with white patches. And don’t skimp on tying your skein! I learned the hard way in the past with an ultra-tangled skein that, although beautiful, took forever to wind into a reasonable ball.”


Soak: “Presoak your yarn in cold water until it is thoroughly saturated.  This will help the dye penetrate all of the yarn.”

Into the Washing Machine: “Follow the packet instructions for adding the dye packet to the washing machine water along with either salt (for plant fibers) or vinegar (for animal fibers) to help set the dye. Use the hottest water possible for your dye bath.  For my washing machine, I used the warm water setting along with the Wool wash cycle, then added an extra soak and an extra rinse.  If I had been dyeing cotton yarn, I would use the hot water setting.


Drying: “When the wash cycle has finished, hang up your skeins to dry someplace where you don’t mind a few drips.  My favorite place to hang drying yarn is over the shower curtain rod so that any extra clear water drips into the tub.”


Result:  “I have enough from this dye project to make this great oversized herringbone cowl that will look great with my black wool winter coat.”

Additional Tips:

  • “Avoid agitation!  It can cause animal fibers to felt and can tangle any type of yarn.  The Wool wash cycle on my washing machine has almost no agitation so it works well for this project.”
  • “To make a pale shade, use a shorter wash cycle; a longer wash cycle means the yarn will be in the dye for more time and will get darker and more saturated.”
  • “Dye all of your yarn for a given project in one batch so that the yarn will all be the same color.  There are so many variables in the dyeing process that it is pretty difficult to exactly replicate a color later.”
  • I’ve used iDye and RIT dyes a lot and have never had a problem with dye remaining in my various washing machines.  If you’re nervous about dye hanging around after your project, you can wipe down the inside of the machine afterwards with an old towel and (if your washer has this setting) run a Tub Clean cycle.

Thanks, Alison! Who knew there were little dye nuggets ready for you to toss into your washing machine? Knowing that they won’t stain the inside of my machine, I might toss in some fabric with my fiber, too. Maybe it would give me a complementary yarn+fabric combination I could use to make a really cute outfit for one of my daughters!

Now that we’ve explored a few different dyeing techniques, which one are you likely to try?

An Intro to Jacquard Dyeing

Have you ever dyed fiber with Jaquard Acid Dyes? Neither have I! Kim here at Knit Picks is a pro. So I asked her to do some dyeing and take some photos, and she made it looks so easy!  She has two methods: one uses a crockpot and takes about 3 hours (including cooling time) and one uses a microwave and takes about (wait for it) 4 minutes! Can you believe it? It’s totally clean and easy, too. Here’s Kim’s description of each method:

2012-10-29 01.41.37

From Kim: “I love to dye fiber! The brighter the better! Here I’m showing you two techniques that I used with wool fiber. For both methods, I used the same Jaquard Acid Yarn Dyes in  Lilac, Sapphire Blue, and Sky Blue. I used Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky with the crockpot method and Wool of the Andes Roving for the microwave technique. Both processes will give you a mottled, multi-color look.”

2015-01-12 21.44.09

Prep: “Unwrap your fiber from the packaging, and tie them neatly in a few places so the bundle stays together (there’s nothing worse than a tangled mess when you’re done!)”.

2015-01-12 21.53.50

Soak: “Prepare a solution of warm water and vinegar and soak your fiber. When the fiber is saturated, squeeze out the excess water.”

2015-01-12 21.54.51

Crockpot Method (using Bare Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky Yarn): “Use a crockpot that won’t be used for food again. Add some of the water/vinegar solution to the bottom, then lay half the hank in the crockpot and half out. Sprinkle the dye directly onto the fiber.  The more dye you use, the bolder the color, but there’s only so much dye the yarn can absorb, so you don’t want to waste dye by adding too much.”

2015-01-12 22.04.22

Fold and Repeat: “Fold the second half of the yarn on top of the layer you just put dye on. Repeat the process of sprinkling dye onto the side of the yarn that was bare.  Add more water/vinegar solution to the crockpot until the fiber is barely covered. Use a stick or spoon (not to be used with food afterward) to poke the fiber down below the water.”

2015-01-12 22.05.38

Heat: “Turn the crockpot on high and cook until the water is fairly clear, typically about 3 hours. Turn the crockpot off, and let the solution and fiber cool. “

2015-01-12 22.06.49

Microwave Version (using Bare Wool of the Andes Roving): “Just to be safe, use a microwave that won’t be used for food again (they’re so cheap these days, and even cheaper at garage sales!). Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on your work surface that is double the width of your fiber, and quite a bit longer than your skein when stretched out. Sprinkle the dye randomly over the fiber. Add a little extra water to make sure the fiber is wet, but not over-saturated (or you’ll have a mess!).”

2015-01-12 22.13.29

Cover and “massage”: “Fold the plastic wrap over the fiber lengthwise.  Carefully massage the dye into the fiber.  The more massaging, the less white will show in the end product.”

2015-01-12 22.15.00

Zip it Up:”When you are satisfied with the distribution, fold in the ends of the plastic wrap. Then fold the whole package in half and place it in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag.”

2015-01-12 22.18.02

Heat: “Place in the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute.  Flip the package over and cook another minute. Repeat this process two more times, for a total of 4 minutes, or continue until the fiber is good and hot.  Let it cool.”

  2012-10-29 01.36.07

Final stage:  “Take the cooled fiber and rinse well.  Gently squeeze the excess water out.  Use an old towel to squeeze any extra water out and hang to dry. Then enjoy your beautiful creation whether knitting, spinning or wet felting.”

Thanks, Kim! Wasn’t that great? Both methods seem really fun and easy, and I love the idea of getting some dye colors I love (hello…yellow and orange) and coming up with yarn that no one else has in just 4 minutes! You can find all of our BARE products perfect for dyeing HERE and our selection of Jacquard acid dyes HERE. Happy dyeing! And if you try it, send us a link to your results, won’t you?

Unlimited color possibilities!

I am a huge fan of color.  I love to mix and match and get some lovely and unique color combinations.  My favorite is to dye Bare Roving and Yarn using the Jacquard Acid Dyes – there are so many colors to choose from! There are also many methods to dyeing. I used the crock pot method for this blog.


There are no complex tools needed to do this. You need is a crock pot (this cannot be used for food again, so head to your local 2nd hand store and pick one up just for dying), white vinegar, bare roving/yarn and acid dye colors of your choice.  Make sure you use protective gear – latex gloves (to keep your hands from dyeing too!) and a dust mask or respirator is a must when working with the powder dyes. There are instructions in the Knit Picks dyeing tutorial on the different dying methods and here are a couple of great books that would help you: Teach Yourself Visually Hand-Dyeing & The Complete Guide to Natural Dyeing.

31223 31336

I experimented with a few color combinations. In this first example I used Sapphire Blue & Sunshine yellow Jacquard Acid Dye  and Bare Gloss Roving.


In this next picture,  I used Teal, Turquoise & Chartreuse with Bare Stroll Roving.(on the left) and Hot Fuchsia & Burgundy with Bare Wool of the Andes Roving (on the right).


These yarns are now ready for spinning.  You don’t spin? Use the Bare Wool of the Andes and make yourself a felted scarf or hat! There are some great felting books available including The Complete Photo Guide to Felting.


In this book there are great illustrations and fun felting projects to make as well as great instructions for the different felting processes.

Now all you need to do is start creating!