In this process, you prepare to paint the dye directly onto the yarn with foam brushes to create variegated skeins. Using wool skeins with a 2-yard circumference, this technique shows how to paint skeins with distinct 6-inch color bands that form an 18-inch color pattern repeat. The color pattern repeats four times around the circumference of the skein. Using dye thickener helps maintain distinct colors.


Gather your materials

4 four-ounce skeins (454g) of wool yarn, prepared for dyeing

1 envelope each color Cushing Perfection Dyes: Plum, Mulberry, Rust

Citric acid crystals

Superclear dye thickener


Pyrex measuring cup

Measuring spoons

4 small plastic cups or containers for holding dye

Permanent felt-tip marker and ruler for marking length of color bands

Plastic wrap

4 two-inch-wide foam brushes

Sponges and paper towels

Enamel canning pot with rack and lid

Pie plate to cover rack

Small plastic bowl


Mix each envelope of dye powder with 4 cups (1,000ml) boiling water

Mix the dye solutions in advance and allow them to reach room temperature before use.


Wet the skeins in an acid presoak.

Soak the skeins for a minimum of 30 minutes.


Spread two sheets of plastic wrap side by side, overlapping the plastic by 2 inches.

The sheets should extend roughly 6 inches longer than the length of the skein.


Pour each dye solution into its own cup and place the cups in the order of your planned color sequence.

You will use a separate foam brush for each color. Place the brushes beside each container.


Add 4 tablespoons (60ml) Superclear thickener to each dye solution and stir.

Keep your table clean as you work, wiping up any spills immediately. Place a damp sponge beside each cup to catch drips of dye.


Using a ruler and a felt-tip permanent marker, make indicator marks on the plastic wrap, about 6 inches apart.

These marks will guide your color application.


Lift the wet skeins from the soak and gently press out the water. Place them in the spin cycle of a top-loading washing machine for 1 minute, without adding water.

Excess water in the skeins can dilute the dye solution, so it’s best to have the skeins damp but not wet.


Place one skein on the sheet of plastic wrap, spreading out the skein to form an oval.

The two halves of the skein should not touch.