Learn how to hand dye tonal or semi solid yarn which features tone variations with this super simple technique.
So, while researching and testing various methods of dyeing gradient or ombre yarn, instead of achieving a gradient yarn I figured out how to dye semi solid yarn.
This technique does create an overall gradient effect but it is so subtle that I wouldn’t call it gradient. The technical term for this type of yarn would be ‘semi-solid’.
Note: this is my favorite yarn for dyeing
And yes, I know that by definition ‘variegated’ yarn has more than one color but the many rich dark and light tones I achieved using just one color with this dyeing technique makes this yarn look variegated, in my opinion.
Can you kettle dye to achieve semi solid yarn?
Well, yes you absolutely can use the kettle dyeing method. And while it would produce variable tones, you are more like to get big areas of one tone as opposed to the variations.
Also, with this dye technique, the transitions from lighter to darker would be much more dramatic as opposed to a more subtle or ombre effect.
Can you dye 100% Wool?
Most certainly! Yes, 100% wool is actually super easy and simple to dye if you use the correct dyes and color setting method.
Wool is a protein fiber aka animal fiber which requires an Acid Dye and some kind of heat to set it and make it colorfast. There are several different methods for heat setting yarn dyes including steaming, simmering and even solar.
Note: this is simply my method on how to dye semi solid yarn. Keep in mind that there are many different dyer with their own preferred technique. This tutorial simply shows you how I do it.
Check out my the other 6 other techniques for how to dye wool and yarn
Includes: Which Dyes to Use, Yarn Dyeing Safety plus a complete Supply List
- Wool Yarn (white or light colored)
- Acid Dyes ( used Vermillion)
- Cooking Pot (not used for food) **
- Plastic cup, spoons, chopsticks are handy (not used for food)
- White Vinegar
- Stove or Hot Plate
- Dust Mask
- Gloves (optional)
Note about the supplies: While you absolutely must have dedicated tools when working with dyes, it is not at all necessary for you to run out and buy all new equipment!
Check your local thrift store and second hand shops for old turkey roasters and stockpots. Just make sure they don’t have any exposed rust spots which could alter your final dye color.
NEVER use pots, pans, measuring cups etc. that are used for food prep.
ALWAYS wear a face mask when handling dry dye powder.
Helpful Tip from Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece by Gail Callahan: Cover your work surface with newspaper and spritz them with water. This will attract dry dye particles that may escape.
Dyeing the Yarn – Basic steps
Preparing the Yarn
If your yarn is in skein form, then the first thing you need to do is wind your yarn into ‘cake’ form using a ball winder.
As you can see from the photo, I wound mine slightly more loosely than normal to make sure the dye penetrates the entire cake of yarn.
(If you don’t have a ball winder, you can loosely wind the yarn onto your hand in a roughly ball form.)
Fill your pot with enough hot water to cover your cake of yarn. Add about 1/4 cup of vinegar. Remove the yarn from the ball winder and tie the two ends together.
It’s a good idea to mark the knot with a bobby pin or some scrap yarn but this is optional. Gently squeeze the sides together to somewhat close the gap in the center.
Now, carefully place your cake of yarn into the pot of water. Push it down so it can soak up the water/vinegar. Let this sit for about 30 minutes. (I used a separate bowl but you can just soak the yarn directly in the dye pot)
Note: To prevent your yarn from felting, make sure there are no drastic changes in water temperature and don’t move the yarn around too much while it’s in the water.
While the yarn is soaking, prepare your dye solution per instructions on the container. My general rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of dye powder to 1 pint of water.
Since this is powdered dye, you must use your dust mask, please! Gloves are optional … I don’t mind purple or turquoise fingers, but you absolutely do not want to breathe in the fine powder.
Applying the Dyes
Okay, your yarn has finished soaking, the dye solution is mixed up, now we’re ready to start dyeing the semi solid yarn.
Carefully, remove the yarn from the water and gently squeeze out the excess. Set aside. Add a little of the dye solution to the water.
This part is very subjective but keep in mind that you can always add more but you can’t take it back out. Now, place the yarn into the dye. Let it sit for a minute and turn it over.
Set the pot on the stove and heat to a gently simmer (medium). If the color is too light, add more dye. The water will turn clear as the dye is absorbed.
Flip the yarn over occasionally and add dye as needed. Simmer for a total of 30 minutes or until the water is clear. Turn off the heat and allow the yarn to cool.
Rinsing The Yarn
Once the yarn is cooled, very gently rinse it in room temp water. As I said previously, be careful not to agitate the wet yarn.
Also be mindful of temperature changes. In general, you want the rinse or soaking water to be roughly the same temperature as the yarn.
Once any excess dye has been rinsed out, hang your yarn to dry. It is now ready to use for your next knitting or crochet project.
The above photo does show some gradation but it really wasn’t distinct enough for me to call this gradient yarn. I do like the many different dark and light shades of this dyed yarn which should create interesting knit and crochet effects.
Now that you know how to dye semi solid yarn, I will continue to explore the many different ways you can dye gradient or ombre yarn. Stay tuned … I’ll be sharing my results. Make sure and check out my other wool yarn dyeing techniques in this article.
Here’s a good article on Dyeing Gradated or Gradient Yarn (which is similar to Semi Solid Yarn). Thanks for visiting! Annette
Related Yarn Dyeing Tutorial
- Supplies and Tools for Dyeing Yarn
- How to Dye Cotton Yarn
- Dyeing Yarn with Kool Aid
- How to Dye Self Striping Yarn
- Kettle Dyeing Yarn or Fiber
- Beginner’s Guide to Dyeing Yarn
- How to Hand Paint Yarn
- Dyeing Yarn with a Slow Cooker
- Heat Setting Techniques for Yarn
- 6 Yarn Dyeing Techniques