Hand Dyeing Heaven since 2005!

Hand-dyed speckles – the results!

set of 3 hand-dyed yarns using speckling techniques

And the results are in!

set of 3 hand-dyed yarns using speckling techniques

Hot off the press (well, out of the microwave!) I’ve now rinsed and re-skeined the samples from Saturday’s Facebook livestream.

This time the topic was speckles – how to add speckles to get those perfect pops of colour on your yarn.

We had a lovely session with some great questions. You can re-visit the stream here if you missed it (and you can still ask any questions in the comments).


So, what were the results and what conclusions can we draw?

You’ll recall we did five techniques over the 3 skeins:

Skein 1

1. Dry procion mx dye powder + citric acid

Nice strong colours, good speckling, little colour bleeding

Skein 2

3. Dyestocks (1% solutions of dye + water with no acid added)
  • Applied with dropper – spots rather than speckles, some colour bleeding
  • Applied with brush – good speckles, little colour bleeding
  • Applied with fine brush – good speckles, little colour bleeding
4. Dyestocks blended before application but otherwise as for 3.

Little colour bleeding, more colour control as dyes were blended before application, no colour splitting

5. Dyestock solutions diluted to around 001% for pastel shades

Application with brushes – little colour bleeding, pastel colours achieved with good speckling

Skein 3

1. Sprinkles

Good sprinkles, quick and easy to apply (although some sprinkles did roll off the yarn!), little colour bleeding

Thoughts and conclusions

For intense colours the dye powder with added citric acid gave a good speckle. The neat powders were too blotchy for my taste (although I did choose yellow which is quite a ‘damp’ powder).

The 1% dyestocks were equally intense. A little more care is required in choosing a utensil for application but once a good one is found it was pretty successful. This method has the added benefit of not working directly with powders during application.

The ability to blend colours completely when in solution may also be an advantage as is the ability to vary the depth of shade of the speckle. For pastels with powder it would be necessary to choose a pastel powder.

The sprinkles were surprisingly successful. The sugar didn’t leave the yarn sticky (although one would need to be careful not to overheat and caramelise it!) and the speckles were very delicate. This would be a great method for use with children or in the kitchen. The colours are more limited as is the strength of colour.

So what do I think? I like the effect of the powder + citric acid but there was a lot of wasted powder and I don’t like working directly with powders if it can be avoided.

The dyestocks were, for me, the most flexible but the right application tool has to be found to get the delicacy of application (my secret weapon was an old beard dye brush – not for my beard I might add!).

The sprinkles were great fun. Quick, easy and kitchen/kid-friendly.

Each has its merits but all produced nice results so now it’s over to you!

I would love to see your speckles over on the discussion group and if you have alternative suggestions or methods, it would be great to share.

Have a go yourself!

You can try speckling at home. The ingredients used in the livestream were:


You could also use:


Spread the love with a share!

Picture of Debbie Tomkies
Debbie Tomkies

Debbie is a textile designer, hand-dyer, author and tutor with over 25 years' experience in her field. Debbie has 4 books and over 100 articles published in major magazines and welcomes requests for articles, how-to features, technical and research articles, video tutorials and books.

Making Futures

In addiiton to being a partner in DT Craft & Design, Debbie runs social enterprise Making Futures CIC, delivering a wide range of workshops, classes, Arts Award, Artsmark and City & Guilds accredited programmes. Debbie also offers business mentoring and start-up advice to new creative enterprises.

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