How to Tie a Yarn Hank for Dying

Hanks of undyed yarn

I have a large cone of undyed wool that is perfect for hand-dying to use in needlepoint projects. The last time that I dyed a large batch of it, I ended up with tangled messes that took me hours to untangle so that I could use them. Super frustrating. So, this time around, I decided to be smart about it and appropriately secure the yarn for dying.

Cat staring at yarn

The first step is wrap a length of yarn off of your cone (or skein) into a circle. It’s convenient to wrap around the back of a chair or to wrap holding one end in your hand and the other around your elbow. By wrapping the yarn into a circle, you are turning it into a hank of yarn.

Hank of yarn

Lay one hank of yarn down on a surface. (I made a bunch of hanks of yarn at once and then went through and tied them all).

Fold hank of yarn in two

Putting one twist in it, fold it in half so you have two smaller circles laying on top of each other.

tie hand of yarn

Take a piece of yarn that is at least 6″ long and use it to tie the circles of yarn together. To do this, start with it in the middle of the circle, bring it around the inside loop of yarn, twist it a couple of times, bring it around the outer circle, and tie a knot in the yarn. DO NOT tie the circles of yarn together too tightly because die won’t be able to penetrate into tightly cinched yarn and you will end up with blank spots in your yarn.

hank of yarn tied for dying

Repeat the knotting process on all four sides of the hank. It should now stay together securely for dying! You can use lengths of the same yarn or different yarn to secure your hank, but make sure that whatever different yarn you use won’t bleed when you dye the hank. For one of the ties, you can use the ends from the hank of yarn. I have found it simpler not to do so. If you are concerned about the free ends of the hank (which I haven’t found to be a problem), you can also tie them together in a simple knot without using them to secure the hank.

Cat playing with yarn


Comments 5

  1. I got myself into the same situation – I just dyed a full skein of yarn, and it’s an absolute mess. It’s for a school project too, where I make my own dyes to dye it with. Because it’s late fall now and it was pokeberry dye, I can’t scrap it to start again because there are no more pokeberries! Point being, I’m stuck with this continuous tangled mess, and I spent three hours untangling one today and its still not done. Any suggestions? Untangling tips?

    Also, in the dyeing process, I got a very strong wet dog smell from this wool yarn, which makes sense I guess. My roommates don’t really enjoy it though. Any thoughts on this end would be appreciated as well.

    1. Post

      I’m afraid I don’t have any untangling tips other than a big glass of wine and a good TV show to watch while you do it. Or a road trip where you’re in the passenger seat. Or a friend who gets an odd satisfaction out of untangling things that will do it for you. I’ve used all three at various times myself.

      The wet smell is a part of getting wool wet and can’t be avoided. Put on some bagpipe music and have your roommates pretend they’re Scottish sheep farmers and maybe they’ll like it more?

      All cheekiness aside, I’m afraid I don’t really have good answers for either of your questions. Sorry!

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