Fairy Dust: Hand Dyeing and Speckling Variegated Cotton Yarn

Dyeing yarn is therapeutic, and it can be done in your kitchen!  I have experimented with several dyes and fiber bases.  I have learned which dyes pair best with with base, and I have some tricks for pigment and ease.  
Today’s project was dyeing 100% pima cotton yarn.  I used RIT Dye and Tulip Dye, tweaking the recipes a bit for maximum pigmentation. 


*kitchen sink, *stovetop, *spoon, *1 package RIT Dye in Cocoa Brown, *1 package RIT Dye in Pearl Gray, *1 package Tulip Dye in Hot Pink, *1 catering pan, *1 stainless steel pot, *1 cup salt, *2 tablespoon white vinegar, *2 gallons water, *spray bottle, *drying rack (or alternative), *towels, *latex gloves, *aluminum foil (optional)


1. Prep your working space. Put a sheet of aluminum foil onto the bottom of the catering pan (optional). Put on latex gloves to protect your hands from being dyed.

2. Soak the cotton yarn in hot water mixed with 1/2 cup of salt until all the fiber is wet. Without wringing out the yarn, place in the catering pan, spreading apart the strands. Be careful to not tangle the yarn!

3.Start with the speckling. You will need to tear off a tiny corner of the Tulip Dye in Hot Pink. Very gently, sprinkle the powder dye over the yarn. The specks will begin to change color as they touch the wet yarn. Tear a tiny corner of the RIT Dye in Pearl Gray. Sprinkle the gray dye over the yarn as well. Fill the spray bottle with hot water and add 1 Tbsp of white vinegar. Spritz over the sprinkled dye and watch the color saturate. Allow the yarn to sit for 30 minutes.

4. Next, you will dip the end of the yarn into a batch of the RIT Dye in Pearl Gray. Fill the stainless steel pot with 1/2 gallon of water. Place on burner on medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of iodized salt and pour the remaining Pearl Gray dye into the pot. Stir to make sure all the crystals are dissolved. Then picked up the speckled cotton yarn and dip 1/4 of the yarn into the dye pot. Use a spoon to make sure all the yarn in the pot is picking up the liquid. Rest the remaining yarn that is not being dyed to the side. I use the catering pan to do so. Keep the yarn off the burner (or it will burn). Turn the burner off and let the yarn soak in the dye for 30 minutes.

5. Take the pot and yarn to the sink. Carefully remove the yarn from the pot and pour out the remaining dye. Then using a spray nozzle or the faucet, rinse out the pearl gray dye until the water washes clean.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the RIT Dye in Cocoa Brown. Dip dye the opposite end of the yarn from the pearl gray.

7. Once the brown dye is rinsed from the yarn, you will want to wash the entire hank in cold water mixed with wool wash. I do this in the sink, but they may be done in a very large bowl. Add the wool wash to 1 gal of cold water. Carefully put the yarn in the water and let it set for 2-5 minutes. Agitate it only a tiny bit, as you do not want the yarn to tangle. Remove the yarn from the wash and very gently squeeze out the water. Place the yarn on a drying rack or the backof the chair to dry for 12-48 hours.

8. Once the yarn is dry, be sure to sort out any tangles. Twist the yarn into a hank, and it will be ready to be balled (or caked) when it’s ready to be crafted.

Fairy Dust Pima Cotton Yarn

Lovely by Lee is my full-time job and income. Small businesses are hard work, a lot of which is often done unpaid. So some of my links may include affiliate links. If you click the link and complete a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you!

Published by LovelybyLee

Amanda Lee is the Knitting Pixie (designer, dyer, knitter and owner) behind Lovely by Lee.

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