Skeining off threads to dye

Skeining off threads to dye

I was asked how I tie off skeins that I am going to dye. I thought today I would demonstrate the process and show you what I do.

First up this is what the threads look like when I buy them. They need to be skeined into hanks that are suitable for hand dyeing.

You need to have the thread in small skeins if you are going to use the thread for hand embroidery. It can be fussy to dye such small quantities in comparison to knitters or weavers  but this is what I do.

It is just as effective to wrap the threads around the back of a chair but that can be time consuming.  I use a skein winder that Jerry built me (If you visit this site apart from directions on how it was made there is a movie of me using it)

Once I have a skein that is not too large (as there are only so many meters of thread you can use in a life time) I tie it off like this. It is a sort of figure of eight knot.

Since I often dye different threads in the same dye pot I tie off the skein with different yarns. One tip with this method however,  if I am going to colour code the ties to tell which yarn is which I make sure I use synthetic yarns as the ties, as then they don’t dye and I still have the colour code in place! When the skeins are dyed and dry I can tell which yarn is which. Below are two types of cotton tied off with different coloured thread so I can tell which is which at the end of the process.


I hope you have found this tips useful. I will show you the results probably next week.


  1. Niki
    I don’t think Jerry is likely to make these as they are very labour intensive to make. They literally take hours as everything is smooth (so threads don’t catch) and the gear mechanism is made of wood (the link in the post will take you to the page where he describes the process). I thin they would prove to be far too expensive for most people. However if ever Jerry makes skeiners I will put it out on my blog but I really don’t think it would be until he goes into retirement!

    Sharon B
  2. For those asking what the next step is I will photograph and write up the next step – it will probably be the end of the week however – as I usually set aside a day.

    Sharon B
  3. Hi Sharon, your winding wheel is wonderful, thanks for sharing, I’m really interested in the next step, the dying, are you able to step us through this process, I just can’t seem to get my varigated ones to work out right, I usually get an all over colour.


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