Ombre Dyed Yarn

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Clothing and accessories dyed ombre are fantastic, but it’s scary to hand knit/crochet/etc. something and then try to ombre dye it. Instead, I’ve pre-dyed my yarn so I know it looks the way I want it to before I start my project!

Supplies and Equipment:
– yarn – all plant or animal fibers, no synthetics (acrylic, nylon, polyester, etc.)
– dye – choose one that is labeled for use with your fiber, this is Dylon Fabric Dye  in “Ocean Blue” (but be warned that it is a very purple shade of blue!)
– salt
– rubber gloves
– saucepan that won’t be used for food again
– stirring spoon that won’t be used for food again
– plastic bucket or similar container that won’t be used for food again
– stove
– lots and lots and lots of water
– string for tying up the yarn (this will be thrown away, don’t use anything great)
– ziplock bag
– timer/other method of tracking time
– appropriate drop cloths, aprons, and other protection for surfaces you care about


Your yarn can be white like this is, or it can be another color that you’ll be adding a color over, it’s up to you!


Preparations and Math
If you’re dying for a project you need to know how my yarn your project will take. I’m making a bag that I’ll knit by working in the round until I run out of yarn. Determine about how much you want undyed and how much you wan at the darkest color before you start. I left about 25% of my yarn white.

Find a moderately sized object that won’t snag yarn – this is the box I keep my knitting supplies in. It’s about 12x18x4 inches. I wrapped 2 skeins of Sugar ‘n Cream yarn around it, if you’re working with more yarn you’ll need a larger object (and obviously, if you have a warping board use it!) Cut about 2 feet of tie up string. Start wrapping your yarn around the box keeping the rows even and not overlapped. Weave the tie up string between around every 5 wraps. Keep going until you’ve wrapped all of the yarn around your object.

When all the yarn is wrapped start tying it into groups. I tied mine into 10 strand bundles. Two things go into this decision. First, the number of loops is how much you might have to untangle at a time. Second, each group is going to be a shade in the ombre. More groups will result in a more subtle color variation. Tie them tightly enough to keep the string together, but not as tight as you can because that can prevent the dye from getting to the yarn.


Count the number of groups you have tied. My dye pack said to dye the yarn for one hour. Subtract the groups you’re leaving undyed and the number of groups you want at maximum color (I had 29 groups, I left 6 white, and dyed 3 to maximum color, leaving 20 groups.) Divide 60 minutes by the number of remaining groups – this will give you how many minutes you dye each group before adding the next. I dropped in the next section every 3 minutes.

When all of the groups are tied once, start sliding them off of the box and tying them again at about the center of the loops. If your loops are very large you might want more ties.

Put any yarn you don’t want dyed into a plastic bag and zip it up as well as you can. This is to prevent accidents.

Following your dye packages directions, dissolve the salt into water in the pan. I was using a hot water dye so I heated my water until it was almost starting to simmer, then turned off the heat. Do not leave the stove on while you’re dying. Mix in the dye and stir it to dissolve.

Place the yarn in the bucket (with the plastic bag hanging off to the side) and absolutely saturate the yarn in warm water. This step didn’t need a picture, I just included one so you wouldn’t miss it.

Set the bucket next to the dye. Get your timer ready. Pull the groups you want at maximum color out of the water, and squeeze out the loose water (don’t wring, just squeeze.) Drop those into the dye bath with the string to the next group hanging over the edge. Start the timer for your predetermined time (mine was 3 minutes.) Spend that time using the spoon to make sure this yarn soaks up the dye.


When the timer goes off drop in the next group of loops (squeezed out as before.) Leave it for the right amount of time, then add the next. This will continue for around an hour. Gentle agitation will help the dye soak in.


When you’ve dropped in your last group, time it one last time. Then, starting from the last group you dyed, start pulling groups out, gently squeezing out the dye water, and dropping them back into the bucket of clean water from before. Work your way all the way back to the beginning until all the sections are out of the dye and into the clean water.


Take it to the sink and start rinsing, and rinsing, and rinsing, until the water runs clear. Let the yarn dry somewhere that you’ve stain protected.

When it’s completely dry it’s time to start rolling it into a ball/skein/whatever, starting at the last part of the yarn you plan to use (in my case, the white yarn rolled up first.) Snip the ties as you go, and enjoy all of your hard work from earlier preventing epic tangles now!