Learning to Ice Dye Yarn

Learning to Ice Dye Yarn: Another adventure in fiber crafts

Acid dyes for dying yarn

Today I’m learning to ice dye yarn. This is something I had heard about a while back, but never had the time to try to figure out. I’ve dyed yarn in the past, both hand-painted and kettle dyed, but ice dying is something new to me. Seeing as how I’m on day 2 of a five day streak of staying at home, it looks like today will be the perfect day! No time like the present, am I right?

Follow along with me here today if you’re interested in learning to ice dye yarn yourself. Not that my newbie self can probably teach you anything other than what NOT to do… but hey, it’ll be fun I bet. Let’s get started trying to figure this thing out.

Yarn prepped for dying

What is ice dying?

From what I understand, dying yarn using the ice dye method is supposed to be super simple. Ice dying fabric is also a thing, and I’ve seen some gorgeous ice dyed bamboo velour, but since I’m into yarn and not fabric, let’s just stick with the yarn for now, mkay?

Apparently, the gist of it is that you mix up your dye and pour it into ice cube trays. You then freeze it, bust up the cubes (or leave them whole, but not us!) and sprinkle them onto your prepped yarn. Once you have the ice the way you want it, simply bake the yarn in the oven to set it. I’m excited to see if it’s really THAT easy!

The Process

(otherwise known as the adventure)

This is it! The start of our epic adventure. Picking out the dyes is always fun. Since I wanted to do a speckly green, so I went with Jacquard acid dyes in Emerald, Chartreuse, Turquoise, a diluted Sky Blue/Yellow Sun mix, and then as an afterthought, I added Jet Black. I used a 1/8 teaspoon to measure out some dyes into each jar, then added a splash of vinegar, along with some water. Craft sticks make perfect stirrers for something like this. Do you think I made a mess? I mean….. of course.

My yarn has been soaking in a tub of hot water with vinegar all morning, so it should be ready to go. After pouring dye into my one and only ice cube tray, I put it in the freezer to set up. Waiting is going to be the hardest part, for sure!

Patience: not my virtue

Ice takes a long time to freeze. Like, I was kinda aware of that, but not as aware as I am now. I waited all damn day for this dye to set up and let me tell you, it was the longest day of my life! Knitting happened while waiting. Hanging out with the kids. A friend came by and brought Isaiah his old drum kit, which was awesome. Lots of fun was had while waiting, but still……. waiting sucks.

Considering I was going to have to wait for as long as it decided to take for the dye to freeze anyway, I decided to go ahead and get ready for the pounding. Oh yeah. Demolition’s my THANG! Even if it’s just ice cubes.

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And now, we dye

From here on, we’re really getting into our project. After squeezing out a good bit of the water, I spread out my skein of yarn into a roasting pan with parchment laid in it. I want to be able to continue to use this pan with food at some point, and I don’t want to take a chance that the metal may react with the dye. I preheated the oven to 250 degrees. You know I’m flying by the seat of my pants here, right? The ice cubes were dumped into thick freezer bags, after which I smashed them with a hammer. Lots of big pieces, small pieces, and tiny pieces seem just about perfect for what we’re doing, don’t you think?

Smashing is my favorite, so I savored that little task. Then, after making sure all the yarn was spread as thinly as possible without causing a tangled mess, I scattered the ice, one color at a time, in a random fashion over the yarn. Isn’t it so pretty??

Yarn spread out
Ice cubes scattered

Wakey Wakey, yarn gets bakey!

Into the oven it went, much like the witch from Hansel and Gretel. But not as roughly. I was careful. Baking at 250 for about 30 minutes seems right (remember I have no idea what I’m doing, k?) Back to waiting…

Ding!

Oh my very goodness. Looks like all that patience really paid off. This yarn is gorgeous! The greens and blues speckled with the black is exactly what I was thinking when I started on this today. This is my dream yarn, y’all! I can’t believe how amazing it looks. But… what is that? Is that ORANGE? Where did THAT come from?! I wonder if perhaps some of that Sun Yellow didn’t dissolve well. It’s actually quite nice. An unexpected surprise, yes, but I dig it!

Ice dyed yarn
Orange speckles

Learning to ice dye yarn has been such a fun adventure! I’m so glad we decided to do this, aren’t you? This gorgeous yarn will be listed in my shop soon (if I don’t decide to use it first.) It’s a fingering weight, single-ply wool and will be absolutely perfect for a crocheted shawl. Wanna learn about fingering weight, and all the other weights of yarn? Check out my post here.

Thank you all so much for joining me today. Gorgeous yarn never gets old, does it? If you like what you see, or found value in this post, please share it! There’s lots more to come ♥