Tutorial: Dying with Food Coloring

Listening To: Flathead by The Fratellis

So Yesterday I decided to do some dying and I took pictures along the way, so here’s a little tutorial for ya’ll.

Ok. Ingredients:


-You’ll need something to dye (In my case, wool roving. But these instructions would work the same way if you wanted to dye yarn. It just needs to be in hank.)
-Food Coloring. I used the McCormick’s stuff.
-A pan (13×9 works well.)
-White Vinegar (Dying with food color is different than dying with Kool-aid. Kool-aid has the Acid built in, and food coloring doesn’t, so I use vinegar for the acid)
-Microwave-safe Containers to hold the dye (Not pictured.)
-An ugly tablecloth to cover the counter (Mine has gingerbread men on it!)

1. Make a bath for your fiber. I fill up the sink with warm water, enough to cover the fiber. Add vinegar (about 1 cup.)
2. Soak Fiber in bath while you prepare the dyes and stuff. It should soak for at least half and hour.

dying (1)

3. Prepare the dyes. I’m using 6 colors, so I need 6 containers (Oops, I only pictured 4. But, you get it.) Pour one cup of warm water into each. Then, to each, add vinegar. I used about 3 tablespoons per cup of water. It’s not really an exact science. The rule is: The more Vinegar, the brighter and more saturated the colors will be.

Heat up the containers in the Microwave for a few minutes, so the water is Hot.

4. Now it’s time to add the color. Add the food coloring into each container. I used about 20 drops per color, but I wanted really bright colors. If you want more subdued colors, use less.

dying (3)

So far so good? My colors are Neon Pink, Neon Purple, Neon Green, Neon Blue, Red, and Yellow.

5. This is the fun part, painting the fiber. Pull the fiber out of it’s bath, wring it out a little, and place it in the pan like so:

dying (4)

I make a loop like that out of foil too keep the dye from traveling too far when I pour. I recommend it, or else your colors might mingle together and make brown.

dying (5)

Start painting! You can do this will a turkey baster, which works well, but I just pour.

Once your fiber looks how you want, It’s time to heat it. Since I used Foil, I can’t put it in the microwave, So I put it in the oven. About 200 degrees for 15 minutes. Then, I took it out, carefully lifted the fiber out of the pan, dumped the contents of the pan, then stuck the fiber back in. It’s been heated in the oven, but I’m always nervous that the colors haven’t had long enough to absorb. So, then I nuke it in the microwave for a while longer.

Once your fiber has sucked up all the dye, rinse it, wring it, and hang it up to dry.

dying (6)

Ta-da! Looks different, huh? I never really know what will come out, but that’s the fun of it. I’m totally not saying that I’m an expert at this stuff, because I’m not. There are lots of ways out there to dye, but this is how I do it.

Guess what I’ll be doing today? Maybe… spinning?


~ by Kaity on November 14, 2007.

8 Responses to “Tutorial: Dying with Food Coloring”

  1. Cool Tute! 😀 I have some roving and that powdered dye stuff. I may be inspired to dye soon. I have never done roving. I usually use Kool Aid and regular wool. LOL! I love to dye.

  2. Good job! Thanks for the tutorial, I’ve never seen the process before. I look forward to seeing how it looks when you spin it!!

  3. Looks great. I’ve got some roving that I’m just dying to knit. (no pun originally intended) I totally need to do this soon.

  4. that is awesome!

  5. I know it’s a while since you put this up but it’s just what i needed to find right now. Thanks.

  6. wicked idea!!!! i have some shoelaces that need some xtra color. this recipie will work great!!!!

  7. […] Tutorial: Dying with Food Coloring « Kaity Knits… A Lot. Heat up the containers in the Microwave for a few minutes, so the water is Hot. […]

  8. This is so cool! Especially since commercial dyes for wool are not readily available in my country. Will definitely try this one!

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