How to Dye Gradient (Ombre) Yarn With Food Colouring




About: I'm passionate about health, eating well, and living healthfully. I have a great husband and two of the best kids around. They humour me.

Crochet has been one of my favourite quiet time activities for the past few years. There's nothing better than picking up a ball of yarn, a hook, and watching hockey while weaving up something awesome.

It's a hobby I would recommend to anyone. After a few rows, I find myself completely de-stressed. It's like yoga, but for people who don't like exercise. ha.

A few weeks ago, I saw a tutorial online on dying wool yarn with KoolAid. I was intrigued. But kind of bummed out. We are pretty much a no juice house hold - no KoolAid here. Besides the big red jug kind of creeps me out.

I had other things in the cupboard that I felt would work. I mean have you ever used Wilton Gel colouring? It's left me with coloured hands for days in the past! It just had to work.

But I didn't want to paint the yarn. I didn't want the work of a multi coloured skein of yarn, but I wanted the ombre look without multiple yarns.

How could I make that happen? I racked my brain until I realized that it would be so easy to create an ombre yarn without having to switch out my yarn in mid project if only I could reduce the amount of dye that was absorbed by the yarn in a somewhat consistent pattern.

Enter the ball.

By wrapping my yarn in a ball, I was able to reduce the amount of dye soaked into the yarn - the middle receiving much less dye than the outer layers.

I'm thrilled with the result.

Step 1: Gather It Up.

This part is simple.

Collect all the things you'll need:

- wool yarn in a light colour

- water

- white vinegar

- gel food dye

- a bowl

- a pot

- tongs

- a measuring spoon or stir stick

- a chair

- a few scrap pieces of yarn

Then, wrap your yarn into a large ball.

Step 2: Soak It Up.

In a bowl large enough to hold the ball of yarn, mix cold tap water and vinegar together in a 4:1 ratio.

Drop the ball in the yarn, and gently squeeze out the air bubbles to ensure that even the inner most layers get the vinegar water, then weigh it down in the bowl.

Soak the ball for at least 30 minutes. It is important to do this step as it helps set the dye.

Step 3: Mix It Up.

Fill your pot with water and add at least a cup of vinegar - bring to a simmer.

At this point you're ready to mix up your dye. My red colour is a mixture of Wilton black, red red, and rose pink. I didn't measure, I just dipped a stir stick into my dye, then stirred into the water, until I achieved the colour I wanted.

Use a clear cup to check the colour of the dye - It should be darker than you want the yarn to be.

Step 4: Colour It Up.

At this point, your yarn should have been soaking for at least 30 minutes. Gently drain the water out of the ball of yarn by squeezing.

Carefully drop the yarn into the pot with your water, vinegar, and food colouring.

If the ball isn't covered by water, add some of the vinegar water the ball was soaking in to your pot.

While your ball of yarn is simmering away, turn it every couple minutes so that the dye is evenly distributed

You'll know it's done when you pick it up and the colour makes you happy.

Step 5: Clean It Up.

Once the colour makes you happy, remove the pot from heat and transfer to the sink. Slowly cool the water by running cold water into the pot. Avoid huge temperature shocks and too much agitation as those can felt your yarn.

As the yarn ball becomes cool enough to handle, hold it directly under the cold running water and gently squeeze and rinse until the water runs clear.

Step 6: Wrap It Up.

Once your yarn is rinsed and drained, unwind the ball and wrap around chair legs - not too tight, or it will be impossible to remove - to dry.

Tie each section with a small piece of scrap yarn in a contrasting colour - this keeps it from tangling.

Step 7: Twist It Up.

Carefully remove the dried yarn from the chair legs, and twist your yarn into a beautiful skein and admire your handiwork before putting it to work!

Made with Yarn Contest 2016

Third Prize in the
Made with Yarn Contest 2016



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    6 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Wonderful Idea! Thanks for sharing. It is now on my todo list.


    2 years ago

    That's really brilliant :)


    2 years ago

    This is so beautiful! Can't wait to try it.


    Thank you so much! I have gotten a little practice from my hobby blog, it's nice to hear it's paying off!

    The biggest trick is natural light, and a tripod. I have a Canon Rebel with the factory lens, and I always shoot in the daylight with a tripod in macro or no flash mode. The camera generally adjusts to the available light! Hope that helps!