Hand painting the yarn

If you’ve ever seen beautifully coloured yarn and wondered how they get those effects and colours, I’m about to tell you.

Like with most things spinning related, hand painting wool is a lot easier than you think, but it does take time and patience.


Start with wool roving (here is a big lump that I got from World of Wool). This is washed and carded and ready to spin, except it’s white and I want to add some colour to it.

If you want to try this yourself, you will need:

  • Washing up gloves
  • Wool Roving
  • Cling film
  • Newspaper
  • Dye (whatever colours you want)
  • Tubs to soak the wool in and to microwave in
  • vinegar
  • cold water
  • Something to mix and transfer the dye with (I use hair dye bottles)
  • A microwave
  • A pair of scissors
  • A cloth


Before you start you’ll need to prepare your wool. I always do mine in 100g batches, so I divide the wool roving into 100g lumps and soak for 1/2hour in a vinegar solution (1 part white vinegar, 2 parts water). Once soaked, lay out a long line of cling film (roughly as long as half your roving), on newspaper. Don’t mix your dyes yet.


It’s a good idea to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting stained. Fold your roving in half (gently squeezing out as much water as possible) and lay on the cling film. Now you can mix your dye. I use the water I used to soak the wool.

Once the roving and the dye is ready, it’s time to paint.


Squirt your dye all over the roving, however you like. If you need more dye, mix some more and keep going. It does go further than you think but it does take a bit of playing to get it right and you’ll learn a lot more by doing than reading this (this is one of the first I ever did…..I learnt to put newspaper down).


Once you are happy, fold the cling film over and wrap it up (I usually start by folding over the ends, then one side, then the other). Once folded over you can squash the wool/dye a bit to get a more even covering, if that’s what you want.


Wind round and put in the microwaveable containers (these are my rainbow yarn). Snip carefully at intervals in the cling film and microwave on full power for 10-15minutes. Take it out and let it cool naturally (this part can take hours, don’t worry about that, give it all the time it needs). Once cooled, unwrap, rinse in cold water and hang up to dry.

Now you have beautifully dyed wool that’s ready to spin or felt.