Kettle Dyeing Yarn or Fiber

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How to Kettle Dye Yarn or Fiber

A few weeks ago, I shared with you my method of How to Hand Paint Yarn. So today I thought I’d tell you about How to Kettle Dye your yarn.

How to Kettle Dye Yarn, Tutorial
Kettle dyeing yarn is much less labor intensive than hand painting which also takes a lot more time. So, why would you ever hand paint your yarn rather than just kettle dyeing it? Because hand painting gives you a lot more control over where the dye goes and how much it blends with the neighboring colors.  There are pros and cons to each method. It all depends on how you want the final skein of yarn to look.

Note: Make sure the type of dye you use is compatible with the fiber in your yarn.  In this case, I used my alpaca/merino yarn and Jacquard Acid Dyes
. Acid dye is specifically made to dye protein (animal) fiber.

For this project, I’m using three colors: Terra Cotta, Brown and Tan

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Supplies Needed:

Wool Yarn s.a. Sheep or Alpaca
Pre-dissolved Jacquard Acid Dyes

Note: Always follow safety directions when handling dye powder!

White vinegar
Chopsticks or plastic spoon
Metal pot such as a turkey roaster pan.
(This must be a pot or pan used for dyeing only! Don’t use the same pot for cooking!)

How to kettle dye yarn, tutorial

Skeins of Alpaca/Merino Yarn

How to kettle dye yarn, Fiberartsy tutorial

Turkey roaster for yarn dyeing

Soaking the Fiber

Fill your roaster about half way with hot water. Add some vinegar. How much depends on how much yarn you plan on dyeing. My rule of thumb is about 1 cup of vinegar to 4 (3 ounce) skeins.Place your yarn in the water and push it down. Don’t agitate or swoosh it around as this will cause it to felt. Let the yarn sit in the water bath for about an hour to thoroughly saturate it.

Applying the Dye

Now, you are ready to add your dye! Using a cup, remove enough water from the pot so that the water is barely covering the yarn.Next, gently lift the yarn from one end of the pot and add your first dye color to the water. Very carefully place the yarn back in the pot. Add some more of the first dye color to the top of the yarn. Using your chopstick or plastic spoon, gently open up the yarn to allow the dye to penetrate each part.

Add the second color across the center of the yarn. Again, with the chopstick or spoon, carefully move the yarn. Add more dye if necessary.

Repeat the steps with the third dye color.

How to kettle dye yarn, tutorial

Adding dye

How to kettle dye yarn, tutorial

Adding dye

How to kettle dye yarn, tutorial

Move yarn to help dye penetrate

How to kettle dye yarn, tutorial

Three dye colors added

Setting the Dye

Once all of the yarn is covered with dye, turn the stove burner on low. You want to slowly heat the yarn to a simmer. After 15 minutes or so, turn the temp up to medium. Once the water begins to simmer, turn the heat back down to low. Leave it there for about 45 minutes or until all the dye is dissolved and the water is clear.  At this point, I usually just turn off the burner, cover the pot and let it sit overnight. At the very least, let it sit til the water cools completely.

Now you can remove the yarn from the pot and rinse it in room temp water. When the water runs clear, hang up your yarn to dry.

How to Kettle Dye Yarn, Tutorial

Kettle Dyed Yarn

Congrats! You just kettle dyed some yarn!

If any of the steps are unclear, please leave a comment and let me know. What do you think? Will you try it?

Happy Day Everyone!

Wool Yarns from

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  1. Cool. I love the color blend. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These are some of the most vivid, color coordinated, soft, gorgeous yarn that you will find. Annette is an artist when it comes to colot!

  3. Did enjoy this. demo, Just been dyeing tops for a felting project and used the sink and a plastic bag to spread dyes and finished them off in a half strength microwave for about 2 minutes. A hot start and then in a glass bottle in the sun does a good job here. Aussie summer in Queensland! Jo

  4. Thanks for the helpful post, the yarn is beautiful! I was wondering if you use anything like Synthrapol to pretreat/rinse excess dye out of your yarn? Jacquard recommends it but apparently it can be quite harsh. Thanks!

    • Hi Stephanie, I have not tried Synthrapol altho a lot of people do recommend it. I just rinse my yarn in water with a bit of blue Dawn detergent. Works just fine!

  5. Hi, I hope you can help me. I am the first time dyeing yarn. I am trying to understand of how to dye my yarn. I purchased the bare wool from (220 yards) The colors I am dyeing doesn’t come exactly what I want. The colors r red, green and black (it came out purple) I didn’t want that. 🙁 I am trying to make want of those strawberry sangria color drinks. I put 2 skeins of wool yarn in a turkey roaster. Do you think it is too much in the pot? Also I use jars to pour my dye in the pot. I think it is a good idea to buy those squeezing bottles. Let me know which method I should use to get a good colors for my dyeing yarn. Thanks!

    • Hi Ciara,
      I’m sure we can figure that out. Are you trying to dye your yarn with three separate colors (red, green and black) or do you want it to be one solid color, strawberry? I’ll email you as well 🙂

      • 🙂 Thank you for replying and I am trying to dye my yarn with three separate colors.


  1. […] Finally, Fiber Artsy and Craftsy has quite a few posts on how to dye using various techniques.  Here’s a page to start with about kettle dyeing yarn. […]


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