How to Dye Yarn–Part 4

We’re getting close to the end of this series now, I promise!! I promised you home-school parents and camp leaders (among others) a fun project for the older kiddos, and here it is! Acrylic yarn is cheap, readily available and easy to find in large quantity; as is acrylic paint.

This is a project that I would say kids 10 and up can do basically on their own with direction and supervision (of course, you know your kids best, so be mindful). I would also recommend this as a “mommy and me” craft with younger ones as long as they can follow directions. My three year old wasn’t up for it at the time I did this set, but I know he would LOVE the squish-the-bag part (again, you know your kid and what they’re ready for).

Acrylic Yarn ‘Dyed” with Acrylic Paint

Before you begin, make sure you are wearing “paint clothes” or an apron that can get permanently messy. Acrylic paint dries rapidly and you will have 7-10 seconds to get it off your clothes before it stays that way for good. Once you are appropriately dressed, gather your supplies! For this process, you will need:


  • A 2 cup measure (if this is for food, you will ALSO need a 1/ 4 cup measure for PAINT ONLY)
  • A paintbrush of any sort (a chopstick or other thin stick will due)
  • Paper towels
  • A large ziptop bag (the more yarn you have the bigger you will need)
  • Any color acrylic paint (or colors to blend)
  • Water
  •  About 3 oz Pre- washed acrylic yarn
  • A notebook or printout with your instructions

Once you have all those together, put your instructions somewhere you can easily see them without having to touch them. Mine were in a notebook, so I left it open to that page on the table, but the fridge is a good place or pinned to the wall behind the space where you are working.(Sound familiar? We did this for the food coloring project as well!)

Please remember, Acrylic is basically plastic. Plastic is NOT good for eating. Please DO NOT USE your food dishes for ANYTHING that will touch the paint. When in doubt, use craft dishes.

mix-paintThe first thing you will want to do is decide what color you want. As you’re thinking about your paint color, remember that the color will end up lighter than it looks on paper and that you will be hanging your yarn to dry, so there will be a natural variegated look to it (scroll down to see my end ball). The hanging part means that the top will lose more color than the bottom and make parts of the ball paler than others.

If you have a solid color that you like, then you’re set to go and you can move on to mixing. If you’re mixing a color, grab your paper towels and use one to mix up. I was trying to mix blue and green to get teal, but I didn’t have the right sort of green on hand, so I mixed a dark and light blue to get a nice mid blue.


Once you have your paint color decided, mix 2 cups of water with 1/4 cup paint in your zip top bag. Remember if you have more than one color you’re mixing that you will need to have a TOTAL of 1/4 cup of paint. If you’re mixing equal parts, that’s easy enough, but if you aren’t it can get a bit tricky.

To mix it, just pour the water and paint into the bag and zip it shut. Remember to leave some air so the mixture has space to move. You may need to rub on the bag a little to get any paint that stuck to the plastic.


Once your paint and water have mixed nicely, stand the bag back up and very carefully open it so you can add your yarn.


Close the bag back up and massage the paint into the yarn. Remember those ties we have on the yarn to discourage tangling? Do your best to slide them around just a little so the paint covers the space underneath the tie, otherwise you’ll have a white stripe in your yarn. The more coated your yarn is with your paint/water mix the more color will be visible.


Once the yarn is coated to your satisfaction, remove the yarn from the bag (again, careful not to spill the excess water). Give it a little time hanging over the bag of paint mix so that all the excess mixture can run off to the point of just dripping. You do NOT want a paint stream through your work area. Acrylic paint sticks to just about everything! No joke.





When the yarn is ready to move, hang it dry in a safe location. This can be done on a drying rack, hanging dowel, or just using a regular clothes hanger. The best way to do this REALLY is to fold over seven or eight layers of paper towel and let the yarn drip straight onto the towels. I was stuck working in my kitchen, so to practice safety, I took a craft bowl and put a CLEAN zip top bag into the bowl. Then hung the yarn inside the new bag to drip.


Once the yarn is dry, it’s ready to ball up and use!

I do have a couple of notes that I would pull out of this process, so I’ll share those with you guys now:

  • For the recipe listed here, the yarn is double the amount I actually used. I found that my yarn was very “crunchy” from the paint and I think it would have done better to have less paint for the amount of yarn I used.
  • You can get a lighter color and less “crunchy” yarn by using less paint than called for here. The mix is really up to you, but the more paint you have the more “crunch” you’ll have to deal with. The upside of that is that you get darker colors
  • This project can be done (following the same method) to make GLOW IN THE DARK yarn! I’m serious, this stuff actually works for that, just get the glow in the dark acrylic paint from you local mega-mart or craft store in the paint sections. This usually comes in the smaller bottles. 11214199_10208232507719809_1842973856261281432_n
  • To make a TRUE variegated yarn, you can mix up several bags of paint and dip different parts of the yarn into the mixtures. Using rubber bands or ties to hold your yarn together (tie dye style) will ensure that you get some white sections as well and help to keep colors separate.



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