Learn how to use acid dyes on Knit Picks Bare Yarns! Dyeing is a fun way to take white, cream, or other light colored yarn in a new direction, and acid dyes are a safe and easy introduction to dyeing.

Acid Dye Immersion

Acid Dye Immersion

Supplies Needed To Get Started!

  • Bare Yarn (High Desert Bare yarn was used for this tutorial)
  • Gloves
  • Wool Wash
  • Drop Clothes
  • Heat Source
  • Well Ventilated Area
  • Shout Color Catcher
  • White Vinegar or Citric Acid
  • Acid Dye Powder such as Jacquard Dye or Greener Shades Acid Dye
  • Dye-Dedicated Pot
  • Tongs
  • Spoons
  • Measuring Spoons


  • Shower Curtain Rings: put these through the hanks to get a grip on them and hang them up without tangling.
  • Apron: Not required, but nice to have on hand.
  • Mask/Respirator: You should be dying in a well ventilated area, but masks are an extra layer of protection. Research the specific dyes you will use as manufacturers will state whether or not a mask is required for safety.

TIP: Write everything down as you go! There are many steps and you do not want to rely on memory for your calculations. This is also helpful to go back to if you want to re-create a certain dyed fiber.

STEP 1: Start by weighing the amount of fiber you will be dyeing. Consult the yarn label for the weight if you do not have a scale.

STEP 2: Soak the fiber in cool/room temperature water for at least 15 minutes.

STEP 3: Fill your pot with enough water for the fibers to float freely and bring to a simmer.

DO NOT BOIL! Dyeing certain fibers in boiling water will felt them!

STEP 4: Prepare the dye bath: Glove up!

  • Add either 1/4 cup of white vinegar OR 1 Tbs citric acid per pound of fiber to the simmering water:
    • This activates the acid dye and makes the color adhere to the fiber.
    • Unlike white vinegar, citric acid has no smell, which may be more appealing to use. It can be found with canning and preserve supplies at the grocery store.
    • Per 100g skein of High Desert Bare:

      1 tbs or vinegar or 0.5 tsp citric acid

  • Add 2-4% of the fiber weight in dye powder to the pot.
    • Per 100g skein of High Desert Bare:

      2/3 tsp dye powder

STEP 5: Add the wet fiber to the dye pot.

  • Keep the temperature at a simmer and gently stir.
  • The ratio between fiber and dyestuffs is more important than the ratio of water to fiber/dyestuffs.

STEP 6: Simmer the fiber in the dye bath for 30-45 minutes.

  • Longer dye periods generally create more saturated colors, but do not leave yarn more than an hour or it may scorch.
  • Blues typically take closer to 45 minutes.
  • Gently stir but only to keep the fibers from sinking to the bottom of the pot.

STEP 7: Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in oven for 30-45 minutes.

  • Longer dye periods generally create more saturated colors, but do not leave yarn more than an hour or it may scorch.
  • Blues typically take closer to 45 minutes.

STEP 8: Remove fiber from pot and rinse THOROUGHLY with COLD water. Gloves on!

  • Continue to rinse until water runs clear.
  • The cold water preserves the vibrancy of the color.
  • Gently squeeze out any water once it runs clear and hang up to dry.

STEP 9: Look in your dye pot. There should be little to no color left in the water. If there is, you can put it back on the heat and add some extra fiber to soak up the excess dye by repeating steps 5-8.

  • If the dye bath is clear/mostly clear, you can pour it down the splash sink.


STEP 10 (optional): Soak the dyed yarn in warm water and wool wash/light detergent for 15-20 minutes, rinse, squeeze out excess water, and hang to dry.

  • This removes all the excess dye left behind. The reason some yarns bleed when your finished product is blocked is because this step was not done.

TIP: Place a sheet of Shout Color Catcher into the wash water. This absorbs any dye that is free-floating in the water. Also do this when wet blocking finished projects to contain bleeding. They can be found in the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store.

STEP 11: Spread hanks on a drying rack or clothes line in a well ventilated area. Cover the floor with a towel or tarp, as required. Drying time may take 1-3 days, depending on the ambient temperature and humidity.

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