How to dye yarn – Ombre

Today I’m going to show you how to dye your own yarn. There are a lot of different ways, and I will make more in the future, but today I will show you how to dye yarn to get that pretty ombre effect in your knitting.
This is what you need:

– White vinegar
– Dye (acid dye, Wilton Food Coloring (WFC from now on), you can use whatever you want)
– Yarn (make sure it’s a natural fiber, or at least for 80%, like alpaca, wool. Trying to dye acrylic yarn this way won’t work)
– A pot with water
– Plastic cups (to mix the dye before adding it to the pot)
– A spoon (with acid dye try to use things you won’t use to make/eat dinner with, just in case)
– Something to lift the yarn out of the hot water, it can be a spoon or BBQ tongs
– Gloves
– A towel

For ombre yarn I use sock blanks, you can knit them yourself first, but it will take a lot of time if you don’t have a knitting machine to do it for you.
There are a lot of ways people dye ombre yarn but it’s not very easy and it’s a lot of work. I feel that this is the best way to do it.
I use these:

The dye I have is mostly WFC. I do have a few acid dyes, they are great and they have a lot more colours to choose from. I don’t prefer one or the other. Maybe the acid dyes are a little bit easier to use, since it’s a powder and it will dissolve quicky.

Before you start you want to heat the water. It doesn’t have to boil but it should be close. Dye needs heat and acid to dye the yarn. This is why you can’t use your hands to pick up the yarn from the pot. 😉
Once it’s at the right temperature you need to add the vinegar. I can’t tell you how much I add and I keep adding while I am dying the yarn. If I feel like I didn’t add enough I will add more and I will add some more after every colour as well. I start with maybe a coffee cup of vinegar.

I chose to do a green ombre today. I started with the acid dye in emerald green.

The amount of dye you need isn’t based on the amount of water you have in your pot, it depends on the amount of yarn you want to dye.
I just started adding the mix in with the water a little bit at a time, making sure you have a nice and even ombre effect by keeping the end of the yarn in the pot all the time and dipping in the rest for a second, then keep that part out of the pot and make sure you do the same with that whole part. The longer it’s in the pot, the more vibrant the colour will be, you don’t want the same amount of dye everywhere, because that will ruin the ombre effect.

Then moving on to the second colour. I used lime green this time. Starting with the light emerald green part dip that part in the water with the new dye. If you want to make sure it’s not too vibrant right away since it’s only the tranition and you want to get a seamless sock blank, add only a little bit of the new colour to the pan. That way you can’t really go wrong.
Move that part out of the water once you’re done and add more of the new colour, keeping the next part of the sock blank in the water for as long as you want to get that vibrant colour again. Then dip in the part where you want that colour to end for that seamless transition into the next colour, like you did the first time.
In the end it’s just a lot of moving around and checking if you like the colour, putting it back in, dipping, checking, adding more dye if you want, this is what makes it so much fun. 🙂

I wasn’t sure what to do next so I took the whole sock blank out of the water to think. Isn’t it pretty already?

I decided to go for my WFC in turquoise.
Again, doing the same thing as I did in the previous two steps.

I wanted this to be the last colour and I wanted it to end in a very light turquoise. This was easy, just make the ombre longer than in the previous steps and only put in the last part of the yarn when the water is almost clear and there’s almost no dye left.

When you’re done rinse the yarn in cold water to make sure you get rid of any excess dye, there shouldn’t be any, or only a little.
Hang it out to dry.
Once it’s done it will look something like this:

I love how it turned out! You can use as many colours if you want but the more colours you will use the more stripes your knitting will have, I don’t always want that. You can use one colour as well, I might do that at some point. It’s not as much fun to make, but it looks gorgeous.

This is the start of the scarf I am making:

I can’t wait to see what it looks like after it’s done!

I started dyeing my own yarn because the handdyed yarns on Etsy are pretty expensive and they might not be exactly what you want in the end. This way it’s all up to you, the yarn is cheaper and you can use the same dye many times, so it’s perfect! I sometimes even buy normal ‘natural’ yarn like Drops Alpaca and dye it myself when they don’t have the colour I want.

I hope you liked this tutorial. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


5 thoughts on “How to dye yarn – Ombre

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