Dye Day!

Yesterday, I had some fun with a few skeins of un-dyed yarn, food colouring drops and vinegar in my kitchen.  I usually dye with Jacquard acid dyes but due to laziness I decided to bring my stash of food safe dyes over to my apartment and use those instead.

You can never have too much blue dye!  Or, at least, I can’t 🙂  This yarn is a worsted weight superwash merino and it took the dye beautifully!  It is a bit light in some places but that’s okay with me.

I used a combination of blue from both the neon and regular pack of food colouring drops.  I think they both contain the same blue dye.

This yarn reminds me of old copper after it has started to turn green.  The yarn is a blend of wool, alpaca and silk.

Initially, I attempted to get a golden colour (seen in this awesome food dye colour chart) by mixing red with neon green (a very yellow green).  The result was splotchy orange and green so, I over-dyed it with more blue and I like the way it turned out.

It’s mainly an olive green but with hints of an underlying coppery orange colour.

This wool/silk sock yarn was very problematic!  Purple is a real challenge when dyeing as the red and blue are taken up by the yarn at different rates which can result in splotches of the different colours.

I ended up over-dyeing this yarn with practically a whole large bottle of blue.  It’s hard to see from the picture (why is it so hard to accurately photograph purple?) but the yarn varies between red-purple and blue-purple across the skein.

After spending so long on many applications of dye onto the skeins of yarn that I wasn’t satisfied with, I decided to go for something simple with this last one.

This is a skein of Blue Faced Leicester wool in a worsted weight.  I first dyed this yarn light pink with a small amount of red dye and then returned it to the dye bath with a bit of blue.

The colour ended up as a grey-purple that kind of reminds me of an elephant.

What did I learn from all of this experimentation?

  • I prefer dyeing with the Jacquard dyes I normally use as they are more potent and predictable.  However, this is a great, safe way to start dyeing or play around with colour especially if you have children you want to include in the fun.
  • It takes a LOT of food colouring or kool aid to dye yarn.
  • Kool aid packets are not always what they seem – A blue packet of “Tropical Punch” actually contains red dye and no blue to be found!
  • When tying figure eight knots around skeins of yarn, keep it as loose as possible or the ties will act as a resist against the dye and you will be left with white spots.
  • Over-dyeing can save a lot of dyeing mistakes!
  • Yarn takes up blue dye differently from a lot of other colours as this great article describes quite well.


http://www.dyeyouryarn.com/ – A wonderful website with instructions and tips on how to dye with all kinds of food-safe dyes including food colouring, kool aid, and wilton’s.

What a Kool Way to Dye (ravelry group) – A great place to find answers to questions and also has a number of resource list pages with links to even more information.


About Julianna

Spinner, knitter, fibre-lover :)
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14 Responses to Dye Day!

  1. They are all so nice! I kind of want to try my hand at dying but I’m always afraid to start another obsession. I really like the 1st blue and the last. I totally agree that photographing purple is impossible! i’m knitting a purple cardigan right now and seriously every photo of it is different, and NONE of them are true to the real color. SIGH!

    • Julianna says:

      Thank you!! I know what you mean about the slippery slope of new obsessions, lol! It is so much fun, though. You should try it at least once 🙂


  2. amy j says:

    Oooh, so much pretty! Very very cool m’lady, and such an informative post. I am planning on dying on a camp stove this evening, so can join in at last……In the meantime I am booked for a flying lesson this afternoon, maybe they’ll let me work on my sock while I’m up there?!

    • Julianna says:

      Thank you! You are so hilarious! I think they will let you knit while you fly a plane, unless they are crazy.

      We miss you!!


      • amy j says:

        They did they did, although the instructor was so busy taking photos of me knitting we forgot that neither of us was flying the plane!!!!! XXX

  3. harpo716 says:

    I love the dyed yarns! they look great! your comment about what a kool aid packet actually contains reminded me of a Knitty article so I thought I would share the link http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall02/FEATdyedwool.html not sure if the colours are still out there but it’s a lovely visual eitherway…

  4. Pingback: Hand-dyed Star-Crossed | Knitters Rumble!

  5. katrina says:

    Darling…the colour chart you mention (McCormick Formulas)…is that for wilton food dyes? We’re getting ready for a fun food safe dye experiment! 😀

  6. katrina says:

    And if not Wilton…where can I find McCormick’s in Ottawa?

    • Julianna says:

      The colour chart for mccormick is equivalent to the food colouring drops found in the baking section of supermarkets. There are a number of charts on that website, there might be one for wilton’s – I can’t remember.

      You might want to go with wiltons if you can find a good chart (the ravelry group What a Kool Way to Dye also has links to these sorts of resources). Wiltons is more concentrated so you will get more bang for your buck!

      Have fun with the dye day!!

  7. katrina says:

    Cool! I had heard the same about Wiltons, and I think that you told us that the gel dye is even better. Will let you know how we do, we’re aiming to dye in a couple of weeks… 🙂

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