Yarn Dying Experiment No.1 – Natural Dyes

As you may remember a few blog posts back I shared with you some scrummy Welsh wool that I had bought on etsy from the lovely Charlies Angel Fibres.

Well, here is my first attempt at dying a skein. I was actually planning to try dying with Kool Aide, which I had purchased back in October, but when I got down to business, I couldnt find them for the life of me, so I decided to try one of my other planned methods instead. Natural dying, using Turmeric.

First of all, you need to soak the yarn. As it was wool, I had to be careful not to agitate it too much. I dont want it to felt after all! 

Then its time to make the dye bath. As I was dying a chunky 200g skein, I made up a larger dyebath, using 6 tbsp of turmeric, a good glug of white vinegar and 6 pints of water. You could probably half that if you were only dying a 50g or 100g skein.

First I placed the turmeric and vinegar in a pan. The amount of vinegar used should be enough to form a soft paste with the turmeric. 

Then I mixed in the water and brought to a boil. After that I dropped the temperature and let it simmer for around half an hour. 
At the end of the half hour I turned the hob off, allowed it to cool just a little so it was no longer bubbling, then placed the yarn in the pan. If it was a cotton yarn, I would suggest leaving the hob on when you put the yarn in, and continuing to simmer for a half hour before you turn the hob off, but as my yarn is 100% wool, the movement of the simmering bubbles would agitate the yarn too much amd felt it.so for wool, you need to wait until the liquid is still. 
After you have placed the yarn into the dye bath you should just leave it until the liquid is cool. A couple of hours is great.
Now it is time to rinse. Again, as I was using wool I had to be quite gentle at this stage. Rinse it until the water runs clear. Then squeeze it to release and evess water. To get the most water out, you can lay it down on a towel and roll it up then press it or stand on it. 

Finally hang to dry!
Now it is time to admire my newly made yarn! I dont know what I want to do with it but its beautiful. 

Review:

Pros: Being food safe is a big pro! I love that it is just natural ingredients, because it means I am not putting agressive chemicals into the water supply. I also love it because it is a very cheap and easy option.

Cons: The smell. It has dissipated but it hasnt gone away. Plus its dusty – by which I mean you have to let it dry then shake the life out of it – I shook it in the kitchen and in minutes my kitchen floor was yellow! Also, it kinda dyed my fingernails yellow, so I looked like a chronic smoker for a few days!

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9 thoughts on “Yarn Dying Experiment No.1 – Natural Dyes

  1. What a fab colour! Thanks for sharing the pros and cons, I was going to ask about the smell! I’m planning on dyeing using Wilton gel food colourings, but I’m yet to take the plunge.

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  2. very nice colour. i just started dyeing my own wool, but only using the wilton food coloring. i was thinking also to make my own natural coloring, but i was wondering how well the color stick after washing and wearing. can you keep us posted?

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      • I really like the depth of the colour when dyed with wilton. i kept it under the boiling point for about 30min., for the dye to be almost all absorb (blue takes longer to do then other colours), then switch of the heat and kept it cover until cooled down. im just a beginner, but i’ve done extensive research on dyeing wool and i dont think the process is much different. but the gel dissolved best in boiling water and i use plenty of vinegar for dye to suck in better. i love deep, dark colours. i cannot wait for blending and spinning my freshly dyed wool. Good luck with your dyeing experiments, i look forward to see the result šŸ˜Š

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      • Oh another tip, make sure your yarn is nice and lose in the pot… i finished drying my purple wool, that i dyed yesterday and it came out unevenly died. i dont think i did something different to the other colours, but I guess purple/violet dye breaks differently and is easier to get uneven result

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