Hand Dyeing Yarn with Kids

The methodical rhythm of the paint brush has become a much loved tradition for the kids and me on yarn dyeing day.  Two extra skeins for each dye session are ordered and set aside.  The children excitedly and knowingly ask if I set aside a skein for them.  Each child chooses their own color palate and the dyes are mixed in easy to access pans.  I stand back in amazement at how each boy manipulates the color, completely uninhibited.  

Watching their body go in waves of tension and relaxation... oh how I wonder where their mind is off to while creating art.  Sometimes I hear soft whispers, "I wonder what will happen if..."

After all the yarn has been painted, steamed, cooled, washed and dried the boys admire their work.  Sometimes they name each piece.  And sometimes they decide they'd like to sell it in my shop; as Luke has done this time.  

Yellow, Blue, and Green with Red "what if" Splotches:  By Cole

Have you ever done any dyeing with your children?  I always love trying new things with the boys!


  1. no never done that before, looks like fun! Such beautiful wool.

  2. Hi Liz,
    I have been wanted to do this with our children. I just have a couple of questions...
    Do you use the acid dyes? What ration do you use for the dye:water in the jars?
    Is the yarn first soaked in vinegar and then painted? FInally, do you then steam the skein?
    Your boys yarn came out beautifully!
    Warm wishes,

  3. they are beautiful ... how wonderful!!

  4. Thanks everyone!

    Tonya~ We do use acid dyes, both Jacquard and Country Classics. They're much more wash and light fast than using Kool~Aid or Wilton's.

    As for the ration, we just wing it. I wish I kept better records, because sometimes I'd like to be able to repeat skeins;) I'd say about a jar of water to a 1/2 teaspoon of dye, depending on how deep you want the color. You really can't mess it up, you'll just end up with different shades.

    I do soak the yarn in water before hand and add a glug of vinegar to the dye bath. Then we roll up the skein with saran wrap and cook it in the microwave for a few minutes! Put it in the sink and when it's cool, you can unwrap it and wash:)

    Good luck!

  5. I used to dye a long time ago in college (textile major), but I've forgotten soooo much. Would love to try this with my children. The acid dyes are for cold water? Or do you also have to heat up the water first & add color? Any alum needed? (see I've forgotten practically everything). Last question: how do you wash it? Just in the sink until it runs clear or some other way?