Questions about dyeing yarn

I found a huge cashmere sweater at a thrift shop this morning(2 and a half bucks!) :woohoo: and I want to recycle the yarn. The problem is: it’s the color of oatmeal; not a good color for me. So I want to dye it. I’ve never dyed yarn before, so any advice would be appreciated. One question I have is: should I frog first and dye second, or can I dye the entire sweater and then take it apart? Would that make the color more variegated? What should I use to dye it?
Unrelated to dyeing: is cashmere a good yarn for spring/summer, or should I save it for a winter project? Thanks in advance!

Im no dye expert, but I have a little experience. Since the yarn already has dye on it, a dark color would be best to be sure to cover. I would suggest frogging first, then if you want a variegated pattern you can hand paint your yarn for a really interesting and original look. Again, since the yarn already has dye on it, I would suggest using a chemical dye. The ones sold on knitpicks are great. Good luck, what a great find!

You can over-dye the wool pretty easily. I’ve had no problem over-dyeing colors, just take into account that the new color will shift, so if the original is a light grey, the new color will have a greyish tint, but if the original were say a yellow, and you tried to overdye it blue, you’d get green. So the principles of color-blending still apply.

I only dye with food-safe colors, food coloring, Kool Aid, that kind of thing, and you can get lots of beautiful colors that way. You can take a look at my blog or etsy stores to see some examples. I’m not willing to use chemical dyes at this point, since they can be dangerous.

As for whether to dye then frog or frog then dye, it’s just a matter of preference. It would probably be easier to frog it first though, because if it felts just a bit as a yarn it’s not a big deal, but as a sweater, it makes it more difficult to later frog.

Honestly though it’s nearly impossible to get a solid color dyeing by hand. There will always be variations in color, whether from different areas of the yarn having different exposures, or even the slightest bit of dirt impeding dye uptake. What I do is make it look intentional rather than accidental, by dipping it unevenly, leaving some areas lighter than others.


Is there any way to remove the dye after I dyed it? I used blue koolaid, and I guess I either had too much yarn or too little koolaid; it turned out…well, not exactly horrible, but not how I was hoping either. Can I bleach it? I’m thinking not, but I could be wrong. I tried re-dyeing it. I used more blue koolaid, and added some red food coloring. It looks a little better; still more variegated than I wanted. :help: :verysad:

Bleach will eat wool. You can try peroxide, but chances are that you won’t get all of it out.

You need to allow about 1 pkg of KA per ounce of wool. So if that sweater is 10 oz, you’d need about 10 pkgs in order to get a fairly solid color. I don’t know how much your particular sweater weighs, but the last sweater I weighed was over a pound (16 oz).

If you do not have enough dye, you will wind up with a splotchy dye job. It is always better to have too much dye than not enough, if you’re going for a more-or-less solid color.