Dying your own yarn is not difficult
and can be fun! There are a lot of methods for dying,
but the one I like best uses unsweetened drink mixes,
such as Kool-Aid or Flavor-Aid and a microwave. You
must use 100% wool yarn (or another protein fiber) for
the color to take. I’ve used Fisherman’s Wool with good
results. To prepare the wool, make bundles of about
two ounces each, tied with a short string. (I use yarn
to tie my bundles, and then keep the ties on index cards
with details on the yarn and amounts of mix I used for
future reference. I experiment a lot!)
Soak wool bundles in hot water with
a squirt of liquid dish soap for ˝ hour. While the bundles
are soaking prepare your dye. You can use plastic cups
for mixing. I like to mix up a bunch in a plastic container
with a lid and store it for later use. Start with one
package of drink mix for each ounce fiber you intend
to dye. Mix with six ounces water and two ounces distilled
For each ounce fiber:
1 pkg. drink mix
6 oz. water
2 oz. vinegar
Feel free to experiment. The more drink
mix you use, the brighter the color will be. You can
mix several colors in separate cups and spatter the
yarn with a turkey baster (or paint brush, or eye dropper…)
or you can combine different flavors to get a blend.
Line a Pyrex-type glass casserole dish
with plastic wrap, and remove the yarn from its bath.
Carefully squeeze out the excess water. If you agitate
the yarn too much it will start to felt, so you want
to be very gentle! Place the yarn on the plastic wrap
and pour the dye over it. Make sure all the yarn gets
covered by the dye mix.
Wrap the plastic tightly around the
yarn. You may want to secure the ends with masking tape,
but it’s not necessary. Squish the liquid around again
to make sure all the yarn has been covered. Microwave
the bundle in the glass dish on high for two minutes.
Remove the dish from the microwave and let rest for
two minutes more. Check to see if the liquid is clear.
Be careful, as it will be very hot! Keep hands and face
away from the bundle in case steam is released.
If the liquid is not clear, return
the bundle back to the microwave for another two minutes
at a time. When the liquid is colorless it is finished.
Remove the plastic wrap and rinse carefully in hot water.
Feel free to let the yarn cool in the air. I set mine
outside on the patio. As yarn cools you may use cooler
water to rinse. (The more extremes it is exposed to,
the more likely it is to felt.)
When the yarn is cool enough to handle,
squeeze out excess water and hang to dry. My neighbors
know it has been a dying day when they see the multi-colored
streamers swooping around my tree branches out front!
On wet days I drape yarn on hangers and let it dry inside.
Be sure to line the floor with towels or newspapers
to catch the drips.
Just as few finishing notes: This microwaving
method is best if you are dying a small quantity of
yarn and want to achieve a mottled effect. For a more
uniform effect, you can dye yarn in a large pan on the
stovetop. I have also tried dying finished articles,
which worked fine, although the color will settle deeper
in some spots. One of the most charming results of dying
with drink mixes is that the finished yarn smells something
like its flavor. Yum!