How to Dye a Gradient/Ombre Scarf or Shawl

How to Dye a Gradient/Ombre Scarf or Shawl


How to Make a Gradient Dip-Dyed Shawl, Scarf or Wrap

how to gradient dip dye a shawl or scarf

how to dip dye a gradient shawl

I have been wanting to show you this since Christmas, as it was a present I made for my mom. But you know how time can just get away from you and things get pushed to the back burner.

Well, no more! I love this gradient shawl so much that I had to stop everything today and finally get a post written, showing you this ombre gray-to-cream shawl/wrap/big scarf thing. 🙂

how to dye an hombre/ombre shawl or wrap

how to gradient dye your knitted scarf

how to gradient ombre dye a knitted or woven shawl

Isn’t it beeeeautiful beyond? I think so.

My mom thought so. But of course, she’s so loving and supportive that if I handed her a box of horse doodoo she’d exclaim how nicely I placed it in the box and what a lovely shade of brown it was. LOVE YOU, MOM!!!

Wondering how I made it and how you can make one similar?

how to dye a gradient look tutorial

Here’s How! (I’m regretful that I didn’t take step-by-step photos… but hopefully the final pictures are pretty enough to inspire you to give this a go!)

Step 1. Knit, Crochet or Weave a scarf or shawl in the size and length you prefer.

I wove this one, using my Schacht flip loom. I didn’t measure the shawl, but it was about 2 feet wide, I think… and a few feet long. Sorry… rough estimates, I know.

I used an undyed version of my fluffy and squishy (one of my all-time favorite yarn bases) aran weight superwash merino. It can be machine-washed (but hand-washing is preferable as it keeps your item looking new longer), is warm but not sweltering and is just so darn squishable. Ideal for projects for all ages too. Really, I love it.

Note: Weaving is really awesome if you have hand or wrist pain from knitting or crocheting. If you have a smidgen of extra space in a closet somewhere, you can store your loom there. So it doesn’t take up much extra space. And then you can just plop it on your lap, sit the back of the loom on a stool or something and go to town weaving. It’s REALLY fast (compared to knitting and crocheting) and just gives you another creative outlet.

I’m a HUGE fan of knowing multiple crafts, so you don’t get bored with one, or worse (like I did) develop really severe wrist pain.

IF KNITTING: Most stitches will be fine for over-dyeing, but really just a basic garter stitch or stockinette type stitch will work fine. I find simple patterns are best for this type of thing, as you want the dyeing to take center-stage and not be overwhelmed by a crazy stitch pattern. But whatever floats your boat.

IF CROCHETING: You can over-dye crocheting, but since it’s generally tighter than knitting or weaving, you’ll want to make sure to either crochet loosely, or do a test swatch first. Crochet a small bit, dye it like you would the real thing and see how it turns out. If you crochet too tightly, you might end up with undyed bits inside each stitch. You might like that look, though. Up to you.

IF WEAVING: I really didn’t experience any problems, as my weaving was pretty loose. So just weave away.

Step 2: Dye It!

Here’s what I did. I should have taken pictures, but didn’t. But trust me, it’s pretty easy!

1. Fill a large pot (mine’s about a foot tall, but you can use whatever you have) with COOL or LUKE WARM water and set it on the stove to start heating up. Very important! If you start with boiling water, the dye has a tendency to stick immediately to your project and create a harsh, dark area, rather than subtly spreading out like shown in this wrap.

2. Add your dye. You can use Kool-Aid, Wilton cake dyes (plus add a few splashes of vinegar or the dye won’t set), food coloring (add vinegar like with the cake dyes), Rit Dye or professional wool acid dye, like I used. These will work on ANIMAL fibers, including silk. For plant-based fibers like cotton or linen, use Rit Dye. I chose a lovely gray tone, but you can pick any color you like. Do some test swatches first to make sure you like your color before dunking your final piece in! How much dye? I did about 1 tsp of acid dye for mine… use LESS than you think, as you can always redye it, but you can’t take dye off! Try starting with one packet of Kool-Aid for example, for a scarf this size. (This took about 3 skeins/300g/10.5 oz of wool)

3. Soak your shawl/scarf/wrap in lukewarm water until thoroughly saturated (the more you let it soak, the more even your final piece will look). I soaked mine about 10 minutes or so.

4. Dunk! Decide how you want to dye your scarf. I folded mine in half (holding the tassled ends together) and began dunking the middle of the scarf into the dye water once it started to warm up.

5. Continue dunking little by little as the water continues to heat… The dye will soak into the initial part of the scarf, and then should appear lighter and lighter as you continue to lower it, raise it to check, lower it a bit more, raise it to check… etc. It’s a bit of an eye-balling/art type thing rather than a science. If you find the dye isn’t getting lighter as you continue to dunk, it probably means you’re going too fast (sloooowwww down cowgirl…. it’ll take awhile… anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour total, depending upon your fiber type, size of shawl and dye amount) OR you’ve added too much dye and it just won’t ever soak in. If you really feel like you’ve added too much dye, just remove your shawl, dump out about half of the dye water, refill with water, and continue to dunk. You’ll have diluted your dye enough that it should hopefully work for you!

Step 3: Rinse.

Once all the dye has soaked in or you’re satisfied with your new gradient/ombre (hombre?) shawl, remove it and lay it in the sink to cool. Keep undyed parts AWAY from dyed parts! Once cool, gently rinse with luke warm water to remove any excess dye, MAKING SURE to keep the dyed parts away from the undyed parts, just in case any remaining dye decides to transfer.  If you lay a dark gray, freshly dyed section of wool onto undyed wool, the color WILL most likely transfer, leaving a blob on the fresh, undyed part. So just be careful.

Step 4: Dry.

Lay out how you want the finished piece to look and let dry. You can pin it into place if you like, but I didn’t. I just put mine onto our hardwood floors near a heat vent. It’ll take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to dry, depending upon your weather, humidity, temperature, fiber type, etc.

And voila. You should now have a gorgeous piece you are delighted with!

how to dye a crochet shawl or scarf

instructions on how to dye a gradient accessory

how to dye a gradient shawl


-DO A TEST SWATCH FIRST. I can’t emphasize this enough. Make a bitty square using your preferred technique (knitting, crocheting, weaving) and mix up a bitty amount of dye and TEST TEST TEST. Unless you like to fly by the seat of your pants and you don’t really care if the finished item turns out. Then just throw caution to the wind and go for the full piece right away.

-Each fiber will react differently. Even superwash wool reacts differently (usually takes up the dye faster) than regular wool. If you’re using cashmere, silk, cotton, alpaca, a blend or any other fiber, they will each respond differently. Dyeing is a bit like letting go of the reigns and just seeing what happens. But that’s part of the fun.

-No stressies allowed! You can always over-dye the final piece into a dark, solid color if you’re unhappy with how it turns out!

-You’re not limited to just a scarf or shawl! Try dyeing a sweater you thrifted, or a pair of wool socks, or dish cloths or kitchen towels. Lots of options!

-Just have fun with it! Yarn crafts should bring us joy, so just love the process, play and see what happens.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I hope to do more for you soon.

(In case you’re wondering why I’m not grinning from ear to ear, it was about -20 F that day and we were, needless to say, rushing to get good photos. EEK! So cold!)

how to dye a slow color change shawl or scarf

tutorial how to gradient dyeing

finished object how to dye a shawl

how to dye a shawl


Let me know in the comments below what color YOU’D choose for an ombre/gradient look like this. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time…



  1. Loda Schreckhise March 26, 2014 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    I love my beautiful shawl. Loving hands that fashioned it makes it even more a treasure and it keeps me warm..;)

  2. Bonnie March 26, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Wow that’s beautiful! I’d probably do neutrals like you did. I’m a sucker for natural colors.

  3. Martha S March 26, 2014 at 10:13 pm - Reply

    Gotta love the look of that weaving and the dyeing! But I just wanted to pop in and tell you how happy you look. You have a glow about you and it looks great on you! Congrats on your happiness! 🙂

  4. Susan Schlesinger March 26, 2014 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Lovely!! How did you make the fringe?

  5. Pamela Dorman March 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Just love your yarns, designs and tutorials. Sadly I do not have the room for dying and now, because I will be 80 this year, my hands are very arthritic, so my knitting and embroidery are nearly at a standstill. I love using your hand- dyed yarns as they give such wonderful effects and I also enjoy your emails. Keep up the good work!!

  6. Barb March 26, 2014 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Beautiful! and thank you for sharing this tutorial. A while back I went to a session with some local fiber artists and we played with natural dyes from Alaskan wildflowers, weeds, etc. It is always fun to learn a new technique. I am pretty sure in North Pole you get some temps quite a bit lower than -20. We lived in Eagle on the Yukon River for a few years, where temps in the coldest part of winter were in the 60 below range, with a wind chill factor making it some ridiculous number below, in which only crazy people like someone I know venture out. Not naming names or pointing fingers, or anything. It is just really good to have a nice, warm indoor craft to do on those days:) Keep up the beautiful work!

  7. Rachel ravelry 100Creations March 26, 2014 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    I have always wanted a sunset gradient, like the way the colors change from one side of the sky to the other. or shade of blue.

  8. Sharon Gilsleider March 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Nice work – very pretty & so inspirational. THANKS SO MUCH!!

  9. Lisa Smith March 27, 2014 at 12:03 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the tutorial. The shawl is beautiful!

  10. Linda Knisley March 27, 2014 at 12:29 am - Reply

    Absolutely gorgeous! Your tutorial is fantastic, very informative and fun.

    Have a wonderful day, Chandi

  11. Phyllis March 27, 2014 at 1:02 am - Reply

    Beautiful. Thank you for the lesson. I want to learn to dye yarn so bad, I can taste it. Once I learn the basics, I want to try this.

  12. Kristen March 27, 2014 at 1:11 am - Reply

    That is drop dead gorgeous! I thought it was woven and glad you confirmed it. I have a 25″ Flip, quite new to it, and now I want to try this. I love grey so of course I would want to dye mine exactly like yours. What yarn did you use? What dent? Love it. Thank you for the step by step. Ah, Aran weight superwash. How many skeins/yardage?

    • Chandi March 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Mine’s a 25″ as well! I think I have a 10 dpi. 3 skeins of my superwash merino wool aran weight. 🙂

  13. Candace March 27, 2014 at 1:46 am - Reply

    You’s cute, but you’s crazy! -20F??? Hope your sweeties quick on the shutter finger!

  14. Andrea March 27, 2014 at 2:25 am - Reply

    What a beautiful shawl! Thank you so much for sharing! I have recently started to dye my own yarn and will definitely have to try this.

  15. valerie March 27, 2014 at 3:30 am - Reply

    So pretty. Yes it looks fun to make.

  16. Sonja March 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    So Beautiful,Thank you for the tutorial ,Its now on my To Do List!
    Have a Wonderful Day!

  17. Marsha March 27, 2014 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Beautiful as always! Both you and the shawl. 😉

  18. Judy Houtz March 28, 2014 at 5:34 pm - Reply


  19. Cryssi Jeffries April 2, 2014 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    WOW, this is gorgeous! I would do a purple, purple is my favorite and there are so many different shades!

  20. MJ April 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    Beautiful ! Gorgeous !

  21. Frankie Visnaw March 19, 2016 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Beautiful shawl, beautiful lady.

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