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I Dyed Handspun Yarn to Knit a Tank Top — Plus How to Fix a Dye Pot Disaster!

Planning a Project Using Dyed Handspun Yarn

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I love making projects with my dyed handspun yarn. We all know that hats and scarves are classic knitting projects, but you can’t wear them year-round. And really, how many hats and scarves do we need?! After years of spinning and knitting, I have plenty! I really need things like shirts! One of my goals is to create a handmade wardrobe for myself full of clothes that I adore and can wear often. So, for this project I wanted to make a larger wearable piece of clothing that I would feel great in.

Enter this Sugar Bush Serenity Knit Singlet Pattern from Yarnspirations. It is a free pattern that I thought looked like a good match for the yarn I wanted to use.

I wanted to combine two different handspun and hand-dyed yarns into one wearable garment. Since I was using two different yarns, I liked that the top half has one kind of textured stitch, while the bottom half has a stockinette stitch (see the green annotations in the image). I figured that it would help visually to have different textures of fabric to mark where I was going to switch the yarns.

And because I like to be a little extra, I decided to add glass beads to the textured stitches. Adding the beads brings some extra visual interest and style to the top, which I love.

This is a project where I spun the wool, dyed the yarn, knit a top, and added glass beads to it. A garment made entirely from scratch! It was a bit of a challenge and I definitely suffered from some mid-project doubt, but it was such a great learning experience and I absolutely love the way that it turned out!

You can watch the video about the project here, or keep reading below.

Fibers for this Dyed Handspun Yarn Project

For this project, I used two different handspun and hand-dyed yarns. The yarns were mostly made from Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) fibers, which is a beautiful fiber that has long and silky locks. I love working with BFL! It has drape and bounce and is so soft!

The first yarn was made from this mixed BFL and Tussah Silk Downy Downpour fiber. The second yarn was from a BFL single that I had overspun previously and then taken some twist out of. I spun it from a braid of BFL from Frabjous Fibers in the colorway “Chocolate Covered Cherry”. You might recognize the handspun yarns in this project from my recent “Fixing My Overspun Yarn” video, and this year’s April Paradise Fibers Club Box, “Downey Downpour.”

A natural grey colored skein of handspun yarn is shown at the top of the picture. A multi colored handspun yarn in shades of red is at the bottom of the picture.
Downy Downpour BFL/Silk yarn is on the top and the Chocolate Covered Cherry from Frabjous Fibers is on the bottom.

The “Downy Downpour” fiber was a natural color while the “Chocolate Covered Cherry” BFL was dyed a beautiful blend of shades of red. So, I had to dye the Downy Downpour a shade of red so it would go with the other yarn colors.

Click here to get your own fiber box subscription from Paradise Fibers and you can spin along with my spinning projects.

Dyeing the Handspun Downy Downpour

I started by dyeing the Downy Downpour with Country Classics dye. The color I chose was Mulberry COC034. The dye process worked perfectly, and the resulting color was SO beautiful! I really loved this yarn.

Unfortunately, after it dried, I realized that the color just did not go well with the other red yarn! It was too purple and did not match at all. This is where my mid-project doubt really kicked in!

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at first. Eventually, I decided that if I was going to fix the colors, the time to do it was now before I started knitting!

My favorite secret weapon for yarn dyeing is to use a paint-mixing color wheel. It can really come to the rescue when overdyeing yarn. All you have to do is match your yarn color with the closest color on the wheel. Then it will show you how the color will change when you add another color to your existing color.

My yarn was a red-violet. The wheel showed that adding red would create more of a red color that would be a much better match for this project. I needed to avoid adding blue because that would just make the yarn more purple. I also needed to avoid adding yellow because that would result in an orange or brown color, which I did not want!

A color wheel shows how to adjust dyed handspun yarn.

I had vermillion and crimson dyes on hand. I looked at the dye examples online to determine which one was more of a true red. The Crimson was more of a pink-red, while the vermillion was more of a purple-red. So, I went with the crimson. A truer red would have been better but I didn’t have any on hand.

I followed the dye instructions and…

The new color looked great!

Knitting in progress on knitting needles is laid next to a skein of red dyed handspun yarn.
Over dyed and corrected “Downy Downpour” next to the “Chocolate Covered Cherry” knitting in progress.

Finishing the Dyed Handspun Yarn Project

With the dye pot disaster out of the way, I was able to finish knitting the pattern and adding the beads.

I made a few alterations to the pattern to better fit my size. Also, the pattern instructions said to stitch the front and then the back, but I knit the bottom half in the round to avoid piecing it together later. I did have to switch to front and back when I worked up the second half so I could create the armholes.

Adding the beads was a bit challenging, but they were so worth it!

Red dyed handspun yarn in a knitted fabric with a textured stitch and added iridescent red beads.
Beads added to the knitting project.

Key Takeaways from a Dyed Handspun Yarn Project

I learned a lot from this project and I absolutely love how it turned out. Here are some things I learned from this project:

1. If you see something going wrong during your project, have the courage to fix it.

I almost let the mid-project doubt and anxiety get the best of me. I considered finishing the project with the mulberry-colored yarn and hoping for the best. Once I had the courage to try the overdyeing instead, everything fell into place. It was much easier to take action and fix the yarn before finishing knitting the garment than it would have been to try to fix it after. I am so glad I fixed it! And the learning process will help me on future projects.

2. Be confident to make adjustments

I made several adjustments to the pattern to make sure it fit my measurements. I also decided to knit half of it in the round. These adjustments worked out great and I am glad I made them to save time and make sure I had a wearable item in end of it all.

If you enjoyed this project and want to see more, you can help fund my dyer’s garden project here. To see more spinning and yarn adventures, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here. And if you want even more detailed tutorials and behind the scenes extras, follow my Patreon here.

If you are interested in private virtual spinning lessons, you can send me an e-mail at evie@jillianeve.com.

A hand knit, beaded singlet from dyed handspun yarn on a dress form in front of house plants, next to a chair.
The finished project! This singlet was spun, dyed, knit, and beaded by me and I’m so thrilled with it!

Happy spinning! You can read about more of my spinning projects here!

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