How to ‘DYE’ Acrylic Yarn

A few nights ago I went to check out my FAVORITE YouTuber, The Frugal Crafter. (Seriously, she’s amazing so I’ll wait while you go check her out and subscribe!)

One of her latest tutorials was on how to dye acrylic yarn!! Okay…I’ll admit; I was skeptical. But she’s SO convincing and charismatic and so gosh darn infectious with her energy that I knew I needed to try it on my own to see if it was indeed true!

And guess what you guys… IT IS!! How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Actually, the term ‘DYE’ is misleading (because you are literally painting your yarn) but the process is the same and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

There are a couple of tips I’d like to tack onto her tutorial if you are thinking about doing this on your own so here we go!

The first thing you need is yarn. Think LIGHT colored yarn here. Anything dark won’t work properly. I went with plain old Red Heart Super Saver in White. I’m sure you guys all have random end yarn balls of larger skeins lying around like I do to experiment on, right?!?!

Wind your yarn into a hank and tie it off in a couple of places so that it won’t knot on you during the process. TIP #1: Use a DARK piece of scrap yarn to tie off your hank so that it’s simple to find after the hank has been dyed! How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Soak your yarn in some warm water to get it ready to dye (I used an old upcycled ice cream container to soak, dye, dry, and wash my yarn). Once it’s good and wet, gently squeeze the water out so that it’s wet but not dripping and drain your excess water: How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Now you are ready to mix your color! You can use any acrylic paint you have on hand for this step. The trick is to mix the color you want and then add in water to it to dilute. (The more water you use, the less crunchy your dyed yarn will be when it finishes drying–but more about that later). How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

The video tutorial shows a ratio of about 1/2 water to 1/2 paint but you don’t need to overdo the paint to get amazing color. What you see in the photo above is a squirt of yellow, a smaller squirt of blue, and a bunch of water. TIP #2: The resulting color of the paint mixture stayed surprisingly true throughout the dying process and the finished colorway in the yarn I dyed was all varying shades (from light to dark) of the color in the tray above.

Keep in mind that the shade you dye your yarn will end up being variegated! The process of gravity when it dries will pull the color toward the bottom of your yarn leaving the top a lighter shade.

Next comes the fun part! Put on an old pair of rubber gloves, protect your work surface from rogue splatters, and then just dump your color over your yarn! How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Get your hands in there and start massaging the color through the yarn. Make sure you get the yarn under your ties as well!

Once you’re happy with it, all that is left to do is to gently squeeze out the excess paint and water mixture from your hank and hang up to dry. For this process I hung one of the ties from a plastic clothing hanger and left if on the knob of my kitchen cabinet to drip into the ice cream container. How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Depending on your climate (and how much yarn you’ve dyed) this could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It’s important to let your yarn dry completely otherwise it will not set and will fade when washing. TIP #3: I’m not gonna lie…you’ll notice that your yarn smells like a freshly painted wall when wet. That smell will almost completely vanish when the yarn is dry and will disappear altogether when your project (or your hank) is washed.

After your yarn is dry, you can opt to wind it into a ball and start working with it right away OR you can keep it in the hank and give it a good rinse in your bucket. TIP #4: The rinsing stage is important to soften your yarn back up and clear up any remaining paint odor.

I opted to wind mine and get started right away because I couldn’t wait any longer to see how it crocheted!

Now, back to that ‘crunchy’ yarn I told you about earlier. The darker end of your dyed yarn tends to be a little stiffer than the lighter end, and that’s because all the paint has settled on that end. It’s fine to crochet with (although a touch stiff) but it doesn’t come off on your hands or on other yarns you’re working. How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

If you’ve waited to rinse your yarn (like I did), after you’ve finished your project is the best time to either throw it into a washing machine or wash by hand if it’s small enough. TIP #5: I do NOT recommend sending out any completed project to a customer (or using a completed project yourself) that contains dyed acrylic yarn that hasn’t been washed first.

I filled my bucket with some warm soapy water and used my hands to agitate my swatches: How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

As you can see, the color is permanent and gorgeous! The yarn is also soft (no crunch!) and odor free after a quick rinse! How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

I can see ALL sorts of practical applications for using my own dyed yarn in my projects and just the idea that you don’t have to spend a TON of money on hand dyed natural fibers opens up a whole new world for me (and I hope it does for you as well!)

The possibilities are endless! Just keep in mind that once your dyed yarn is used up, it will probably be impossible to match it again–unless you’re the meticulous type who writes detailed notes on your color process–so make sure you dye enough to get you through your projects and have fun!

If you’ve dyed some acrylic yarn and want to show it off, come find me on my facebook page to share!! I’d love to see your work!

And much love to The Frugal Crafter for having the sort of genius mind to think outside of the box and the spirit to try new things and share! How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn


Since so many of you have asked me about the stitch used in my swatch, I thought I would post it here for you guys so you can all tackle it and turn it into amazing crochet projects of your own! How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Diagonal Post Swatch

Skill Level: Intermediate How to 'DYE' Acrylic Yarn

Stitches you need to know:

FPtr: Front Post Triple Crochet: YO twice, insert hook from front to back around post of indicated stitch, YO and pull up a loop, [YO and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times (FPtr made).

BPtr: Back Post Triple Crochet: YO twice, insert hook from back to front around post of indicated stitch, YO and pull up a loop, [YO and draw through 2 loops on hook] 3 times (BPtr made).

The beauty of this stitch is that you can control where you want your color changes to begin and how many colors you want to use. Change to a new color after every row or alternate colors as I have done in the photo above. You could also choose to only change color when you work a post stitch! The color variations are endless and completely up to you!

Stitch Multiple: 4 +1

Row 1 (wrong side): Dc in 4th chain from hook (skipped chains count as dc), dc in next chain and in each chain across, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.

Row 2 (right side): Ch 3 (counts as a dc here and throughout pattern), dc in next 2 dc, *FPtr in next dc, dc in next 3 dc, repeat from * across, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.

Row 3: Ch 3, *dc in next 3 dc, BPtr in next dc, repeat from * across to last 2 dc, dc in next dc, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.

Row 4: Ch 3, *FPtr in next dc, dc in next 3 dc, repeat from * across to last 2 dc, FPtr in next dc, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn,

Row 5: Ch 3, dc in next dc, *BPtr in next dc, dc in next 3 dc, repeat from * across to turning chain, dc in turning chain, change color in last dc (if desired), turn.

Repeat rows 2-5 to desired length.

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35 thoughts on “How to ‘DYE’ Acrylic Yarn

  1. […] now, so I’ll keep it as a “wasn’t burned” accomplishment) I revisited Hodge Podge Crochet’s process to dye acrylic yarn But I wanted to try something different. You see, I love varigated yarns. I just think that they […]


  2. Tom Michels January 25, 2015 at 12:19 pm Reply

    I am going to have to try this. I have dyed plant fiber fabric and have some cotton fiber to try. But this expands the possibility of dying other yarns. I am thinking if you do the ombre effect you could dry it flat, I just might have to experiment. So with the acrylic dying process, have you tried ‘dying’ a colored acrylic yarn? If I have a bunch of pale blue and try using pink paint will I end up with purple?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tanya Naser January 25, 2015 at 6:48 pm Reply

      I have tried to “dye” colored yarns with mixed results. Sometimes it is a huge success and sometimes it’s just a big mess. I suggest working up some different color pairings to see what works for you and the shades of yarn/colors of paint you have! Basic color mixing does apply here so if you blend a red with a blue you should see shades of purple. A general rule of thumb is that the lighter the yarn the better the result. :)


  3. kyriss January 21, 2015 at 10:17 pm Reply

    I tried this today with a ball that was destined for the unusable pile due to some really bad staining…. I actually dyed it with 2 colors and it’s come out amazing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. weasel January 12, 2015 at 8:48 pm Reply

    I ADORE the frugal crafter shwee is the coolest and beautiful! Like a fairy! 8) thanks everyone!


  5. KittyKelt December 25, 2014 at 8:38 pm Reply

    Can this method be used to stripe different colors or is it to color the entire piece the same color? Can only acrylic yarn be used with this? I am so glad I stumbled onto this info! I was getting ready to try dyes and baking and….whew!


    • Tanya Naser December 26, 2014 at 1:29 pm Reply

      You can stripe colors for an ombré effect! Keep in mind that if you work colors while wet and then hang to dry, the paint will travel down and you may get muddied results. Instead, try striping the yarn by dipping into the desired colors and then lie flat (on top of several layers of paper towel) to dry instead of hanging. Be sure to turn the yarn so that the bottom doesn’t get crunchy and you should end up with fabulous results!

      You can also use this method on any yarn fiber but I recommend permanent dyes for any yarn that can handle them (like cotton or other natural fibers) as this technique is more of a fun way to get a unique color using acrylic yarn that typically is dye-resistant.


  6. Anonymous December 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm Reply

    Can you use this method to “dye” finished products?


    • Tanya Naser December 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm Reply

      You can but finished crochet tends to make the paint stick in the knots, creating a stiffer texture when dry–which is GREAT for things like snowflakes!!–so make sure to keep that in mind when “dying” finished items!


  7. kedavis99 November 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm Reply

    OMG thank you for this!!! I have some acrylic yarn from an old project that was taken apart, it was white once upon a time and though I’ve washed it more than once it refuses to go back to white. I’m going to try dying it, and I have tons of acrylic paint I was wondering what I could do with so YAY!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. DIY Glow In The Dark Yarn | HodgePodge Crochet September 20, 2014 at 10:32 pm Reply

    […] those that missed the process on how to dye acrylic yarn, make sure you check out my ‘How to ‘DYE’ Acrylic Yarn’ blog post before going any further to find out how to make your […]


  9. […] mini works of art. For even more fun, I recommend dying your acrylic yarn following my tutorial here before making one! (See the example below which was done with dyed acrylic […]


  10. […] Hodge Podge Crochet teaches us how to “dye” acrylic yarn. […]


  11. When I Dyed…. | Crafting for Life May 24, 2014 at 9:09 am Reply

    […] acid dye in commercial quantities to be viable, and to hold the color the way it does. However, HodgePodge Crochet mentions the use of acrylic colors. Seemed interesting and do-able. So the moment I was alone at […]


  12. Danielle April 26, 2014 at 8:03 am Reply

    I am definitely trying this! Thank you so much for posting this!


  13. Färbe Acrylgarn » unikatissimas April 17, 2014 at 2:03 am Reply

    […] war ganz begeistert von der Aussicht, mein Acrylgarn selbst zu färben und habe es gleich an einem fertig gestrickten Sommertop ausprobiert. Leider hatte ich wohl die […]


  14. Dye Acrylic Yarn » unikatissima's April 17, 2014 at 2:02 am Reply

    […] been excited thinking of dying my acrylic yarn and tried it immediately on a finished knitted summer top. Unfortunately I must have had the wrong […]


  15. silasraecrochet March 25, 2014 at 3:26 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on SilasRaeCrochet and commented:

    I absolutely have to try this! Beats paying outrageous prices for hand dyed yarn!


  16. purrcatlady March 2, 2014 at 3:00 am Reply

    You are unbelievable. This is just fantastic. Saw you on Moogly and I’m so glad I did. I am definitely going to get a bunch of white yarn and dye to my hearts content. Thank you so much.


    • Marissa March 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm Reply

      Thanks so much! I hope you swing by my facebook page to share!! <3


  17. Bev February 23, 2014 at 9:27 am Reply

    I have given this a go and left you some pics on Facebook of how my freshly dyed yarn is looking. Will definitely be blogging about this myself. Might even make some more and have a bit of a giveaway!! :)


  18. Maddi February 21, 2014 at 10:09 am Reply

    Can projects made with the dyed yarn be washed over and over again with minimal fading?


    • Marissa February 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm Reply

      Paint is pretty durable! :)


  19. MsKat February 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm Reply

    Since the “dye” is very watery, I can totally see making a reversible item-white or light on one side, another color on the other…wet and blot the finished item, then use a spray bottle to mist the color on…hang to dry then launder as described…hmmm…I’m thinking with the item wet first there would be minimal bleed-through to the other side.


    • Marissa February 20, 2014 at 11:30 pm Reply

      I love the creative thinking!!


  20. Shanan Marie Anderson February 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm Reply

    Oh thank you sooooooooo much for posting this! Awesome possum! Can’t wait to try this. I was going to have to wait until I could afford natural fibres before I could try my hand at dying yarn! But now I get to try it asap! I have oodles of white yarn in my stash and I don’t like white so much!


  21. PeabuttonsMom February 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm Reply

    I am so VERY happy that you shared this! I have old paint that I just might try this with…also have lots of yarn that could use a color lift too! Here’s a question/thought…Could you dye a project AFTER it has been made? Will the process work the same? Thanks :)


    • Marissa February 20, 2014 at 5:40 pm Reply

      I hope you’ll come back to share with us all!! I’d love to know myself!!


  22. Amber February 20, 2014 at 8:58 am Reply

    I wonder if doing this process several times would work to get a more darker or even changing colors would damage the yarn? Thank you! This is a must try!


  23. Desiree February 20, 2014 at 2:52 am Reply

    Thank you, this is amazing. I’ve mentioned your video on Knitting paradise forum and the response has been amazing. Can’t wait to try this


  24. […] This yarn is really painted, not dyed, but it’s still a good way to upcycle plain white or light-colored yarn into something a little fancier. […]


  25. Michelle Warwick February 15, 2014 at 9:46 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on From Home Crochet and commented:

    My fabulous friend Tanya from HodgePodge Crochet has shared a secret she learned from another fabulous lady! Check it out!!!


  26. thefrugalcrafter February 15, 2014 at 8:10 am Reply

    Awesome, I’m so glad you liked it!


    • Marissa February 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm Reply

      <3 Yeah, I’m a whole lot star-struck ;) Lots of love, Lindsay!! And many many thanks for the HUGE inspiration!!


  27. marissafh February 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm Reply

    Thanks for this! I can now experiment dyeing on acrylic yarn first, before natural fibers, etc.


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