Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dyeing Yarn with Food Color and Kool-Aid

Hello, all.

I've been doing a bit more spinning lately, and so I've been stalking some Etsy shops for their hand-painted wool tops. Some of the color ways are so gorgeous, if I had an unlimited cash supply, I would be lost somewhere under a huge pile of wool.

By far, one of the best shops I found is SpunRightRound. Her colors are amazing. I love the sock yarn she has in the colorway called, "Graffiti."

I had to wonder if I could create something similar myself. The results: I did not even come close to the yarn I was coveting, but this is what I did create with some Lion Brand yarn and food coloring:

Although my finished product looked nothing like what I hoped, it didn't turn out too bad. Here is what I did:

I started out with this Lion's Brand Fishermen's Wool. 

I wound about 1/4 of it onto my homemade niddy noddy. Here is a tutorial to make your own. It cost less than $5 to make. 

Picked up some McCormick Assorted food coloring in standard primary colors + green.

Since I used food-safe dye, I simply used a large cooking skillet we have. I filled the skillet with enough lukewarm water to barely cover the yarn, then soaked the yarn thoroughly. 

Some other supplies I used: plastic wrap to protect the countertops, glass jars for mixing and I also decided to use this Grape Kool-Aid on another skein of wool.

Once the wool was soaked, I turned the heat onto medium high.

I used a tablespoon of water per glass jar, and started mixing some of the primaries together in an attempt to create pink, purple and turquoise. Just a few drops of color in each. 

As the wool heated up, I started dropping in the food coloring, starting with yellow. Don't ask me why, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I then layered other colors, only dropping in a a drop or two at a time. As the water heated, the colors began to run.

I used this medicine dropper for the dyes I pre-mixed, rinsing it between colors. 

I think I should've waited until the pot was simmering to add dye. Maybe the dye would've set faster, creating less mixing of colors.

Probably less water next time too, so the dyes can't run so easily. Water is simmering here, not boiling. 

This was the Grape Kool-Aid pot. I stirred in the Kool-Aid first and added the wool dry, so it would soak up the dye unevenly.

Almost forgot, I added white vinegar to both pots in order to set the dye. I let the yarn simmer for about 30 minutes, then let it cool down before removing from the dye pot. Here it is rinsing in the kitchen sink. 

I hung it up to dry overnight, hanging over the washer to catch any drippings.

And here are the finished products.

You can see here where the purple dye separated a bit into a light blue.

I'll probably use it to knit up a bag then felt it. What do you think?


  1. Very informative. Now I want a homemade niddy noddy ��. Too cute.

  2. I think they turned out great! If you felt them in a bag, the colors will blend really well. Nice job!
    Love your new banner! Did you just redo it?