It’s my party and I’ll dye if I want to, dye if I want to…

My birthday is fast approaching and this year I’ve decided to give myself a great present.  Not only will I throw myself a party – Ioften go for the quiet-with-family option – I will have a *dyeing* party.  Friends come and provide the laughter, I get to keep the yarn.  (Gasp! I know.)


W Knit Picks Bare pinks

dyed with Kool Aid


I’m going to think this out by typing, and hopefully you’ll all chime in with ideas and options.

It’s been a while since I’ve dyed, and I’ve certainly never hosted a dye shindig.  Here’s what I’m thinking: 8-12 people, hanks of yarn all prepped, outside on tables spread with garbage bags.  I’ll have premixed the various acid dyes and koolaid.

dyed with Jacquard

A few things that I need to think through:

-Yarn application.  Do I want the dye in bowls with foam sponge brushes?  Do I want it in condiment bottles?  What about a few spray bottles?

– Heat setting.  I’ve never done that many.  I’ve got a big canning pot that I use when I’m doing 1-1.5 kg of worsted weight for sweaters.  But that’s immersion.  How would I heat-set hanks wrapped in plastic in a large pot?  The microwave seems like a slow option.  I’ve heard that a dishwasher works – seriously?  And would it be usable afterward? Any other ways to set them in large batches?

– Rinsing.  I’m hoping to feed people snacks and cakes while the yarn is heat-setting.  Then I want help rinsing. Because I hate the rinsing. Since we’ll be outside I am thinking I can just use several buckets and water from the hose.

Other ideas? Notions?  Chime in!

Many blues
dyed with Jaquard


9 thoughts on “It’s my party and I’ll dye if I want to, dye if I want to…

  1. Leslie says:

    I’ve never dyed before, so, fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t help you with any advice. :/

    I am very interested to hear what you do decide and how things turn out! What a wonderful birthday treat!!

    Happy Birthday to you!! Happy Dying as well!!

  2. Sarah says:

    What an amazing idea! Tell us how it goes and how you have things set up. I’ve never dyed before and that sounds like a LOT of fun!

  3. hopewellmomschoolagain says:

    Some of those long rain ponchos like they give you at Niagra Falls might be a good idea!! I love the idea–how about punch and cakes in colors to match?? Sounds like a knitters version of a taffy pull!

  4. Kelly says:

    I’ve dyed by immersion in a pot and with condiment bottles and then heat set in the microwave, it didn’t take long. Love to hear what other heat setting ideas you get.
    Sounds like a great party!

  5. Rowen says:

    I’ve had dye days with our fiber arts guild, which are a great success, and a great fundraiser for our organization.
    A very simple and effective applicator for dye ( on roving or yarn) is catheter syringes. you can get them at feed stores. 20 cc ones are good for small amounts, and 60 cc ones for larger amounts. it is easy to clean them, you can accurately get the dye from the jars, and they are not that messy.
    We use saran wrap, and out the yarn on the wrap, apply dye, and then wrap to steam. we use large canning pots with a steaming basket in it. even a colander placed inside the canner will do.

    then ,for rinsing, buckets are used.

    hope this helps! have fun!! what a great idea!!!

  6. Karen says:

    Great idea – friends and I did something similar with baby clothing for a friend a few weeks ago! 🙂 She brought the clothing and everyone dyed up a piece or two however they wanted.

    I haven’t done dyeing parties with wool, but I’ve done big group dyeing days with cottons and silks. The ages range from preschoolers to well aged adults.

    If you want condiment type applicators, ignore the ones the dye suppliers sell. Find a beauty supply shop and get the ones for hair dyes with the slant tips. They give better control over the location of the dye. You end up with the tip closer to where you want it before the dye starts coming out. I only fill the bottles about 3/4 of the way to increase this tendency.

    I much prefer to dye on an absorbent drop cloth – I have muslin that serves well. I fold the pieces so that I get several layers how many depends on how much dye is going on and how heavy a hand the dyer has. If you use foam brushes there won’t be as much. When we did yarn, we found that having a dry drop cloth that we could put down on top of the first side and just flip it was handy for thicker bunches of yarn – that way you don’t have to worry about flipping it onto a wet spot of the wrong color when filling in the back. If you’re not dyeing flat on a table, this won’t matter. Waterproof dropcloths just led to pooling of dye and if someone overshot with dye application it was a much bigger problem.

    Can you steam set the dyes? If you have a grill, you could make up a heat or steam setting operation outside.

    For rinsing, a plastic pool is pretty handy. I’ve used a hose on a gentle setting for rinsing large batches of dyed cotton – not sure how that would work out for wool. For big batches, I lightly pre rinse to get the first big hit of extra dye out, then batch rinse like colors.

    I premix dye and put it in quart canning jars that I have for the purpose. I also do this often enough that I have a blender for mixing the powdered dyes, which makes it much faster.

  7. Sherry W says:

    I have dyed wool roving with kool-aid w/a large group of kids. We steam set in the microwave. Way too long & I wouldn’t reccommend it. Canning pot seems a bit laborious, but would definitely work.

    For the dye, we did both immersion and squirt method. We used turkey basters, those little syringes that come w/ kid medicine, and hair dye botttles. The hair dye bottles were the most precise while holding the most. Still, the others made fun designs.

    We used giant metal tubs that we had around the house, for rinsing. I think any large bucket would be fine. We rinsed outside w/ hose water. While dyeing, we put plain white towels & a cotton sheet. They caught the dye drips and made fun, useful items for the house. Used the white/dyed sheet as a table cloth.

    Hope this helps. Happy early birthday!

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