Cashmere may be many things. It’s luxuriously soft, gorgeously breathable, warm when it needs to be and cool when it doesn’t. But can you dye it? The short answer is yes. The long answer is a little … well, longer.
Can you dye cashmere? Cashmere CAN be dyed, but you’ll need to do it very, very carefully. Use a gentle touch and apply a few specific techniques (more on which coming up), and your beloved cashmere garment will come out of the dye bath none the worse for the experience.
Use the wrong technique, and you’ll rue the day you decided a purple sweater was more ‘you’ than a yellow one.
Cashmere takes on dye well, and with the right technique, you can expect an even, pleasing result.
But make no mistake. Dyeing cashmere is by no means as simple as dyeing a fabric like cotton. Cashmere is sensitive and needs to be treated as such. Forget about throwing your cashmere sweater into the washing machine with a packet of dye. Unless you want to be left with a felted, shrunken mess, stick to hand-dyeing.
And don’t, whatever you do, expose your cashmere to any sudden temperature changes…. any changes in heat need to be gradual, otherwise, say ‘hello’ to the dreaded shrinkage.
Similarly, avoid agitating the sweater too much while it’s in the dye bath – the less you work it, the better.
When you’re dyeing a fabric made of protein fibers like cashmere, there’s only one type of dye to use…. acid dye.
Before you start hyperventilating at the word ‘acid’, breath –very few acid dyes are caustic, and most aren’t even toxic (although it pays to wear gloves and goggles while you’re using it, just to be on the safe side).
Acid dyes are actually a pretty broad category. In the mix, you have:
Leveling acid dyes: for an even, single-color effect, leveling acid dyes should be your go-to. Garments dyed with these kinds of acids do, however, require extra special aftercare – avoid warm water and washing machines, and stick to either handwashing in cool water or dry cleaning.
Wash fast acid dyes: Wash fast acid dyes may be widely available and some of the cheapest dyes around, but beware: that ‘wash fast’ label can be deceiving, as many dyes in this subcategory are anything but wash-fast.
Lanaset dyes: If you want a truly wash-fast, permanent dye, Lanaset dyes are probably your best bet.
Food coloring dyes: Want a completely harmless, non-toxic solution to your dyeing woes? Then say hello to your new best friend, food coloring dyes.
Can you dye cashmere with Dylon? You can indeed.
Dylon is widely available, reasonably priced, and comes in a fast array of colors.
Best of all, it’s suitable for cold water dyeing, which, considering cashmere hates sudden temperature changes, makes for a very good thing indeed.
Dyeing cashmere with Rit might be frowned upon in some circles, but it’s actually both possible and perfectly acceptable.
Some people think you shouldn’t dye cashmere in hot water (not unless you want the garment to felt, in any case) – something that with Rit, is a necessity. But it’s not actually hot water that cashmere hates. It’s sudden temperature changes. Providing you take care to avoid exposing the cashmere to any sudden change in heat, you can use Rit with no ill effects.
Just be aware that while Rit is incredibly easy to use (making it ideal for dye virgins) its effects are subtle– if you want a bright, bold color, you may need to look elsewhere.
If you want to go the all-natural route, dyeing with coffee makes a great choice. Its also incredibly simple, requiring no more than a few everyday household essentials. Try it yourself with this simple method.
Cashmere is made from protein fibers, fibers that can be easily damaged by dyes that contain a high ph level. To keep your garment safe, acid dyes should be your number one choice.
Dyeing cashmere yarn sounds an arduous task, but it’s actually much easier than you might think. There are several different methods that can be used, but for the best and most consistent results, hand painting is number one. Here’s how to do it.
Fancy giving your cashmere sweater a bright new look? Then you can. While dyeing cashmere comes with challenges, it’s surprisingly easy to master. Just remember the two golden rules if you want to avoid the dreaded felting:
NO sudden changes in temperature.
NO agitating the fabric.
Why dye your sweater one color when you could dye it 2, or 3, or even 4? Tie-dye may still carry a whiff of the 1970s, but it’s becoming an increasingly fashionable style choice… and done properly, it can look fabulous.
If you’ve got a cashmere sweater that’s just a little too Plain Jane for your liking, give it a bright new look with this easy tie-dyeing method.
If you’ve got a cashmere coat, then count yourself lucky. If you’ve got a cashmere coat that’s more drab than fab, then count yourself in need of some dye. Providing you follow a few simple guidelines, dyeing a cashmere coat is fairly simple… just make sure you DO follow those rules, otherwise you might end up with a disaster on your hands.
Top Tips for Dying a Cashmere Coat
DON’T agitate the fabric. Agitating cashmere is a surefire way of felting it.
DON’T expose it to any sudden temperature changes. Heat isn’t a no-go, but rapidly going from hot to cold will leave you with a felted catastrophe.
DON’T dry it in the sun. Once you’ve given the coat it’s final rinse, hang it up inside to air dry. Exposing it to sunlight at this stage could weaken the dye.
DO use a dye intended for protein rather than vegetable fibers.
DO double up on dye if you’re using a dark dye. For a saturated, even result, you might need to use several dye baths.
DO wear rubber gloves and old clothes – fabric dye stains!
Cashmere scarves can be worn year-round, but certain colors are more appropriate to spring and summer, while others are best suited to fall and winter. If you love everything about your scarf but it’s color, give it a seasonal makeover with this easy dyeing method.