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I follow a lot of indie yarn dye artists on Instagram. They have such a pretty variety of yarn. One’s you can not find at the big box stores. Not that I don’t have enough hobbies, I thought it would be fun to try to dye some yarn. I know that mine won’t turn out as pretty as all those dye artist’s I follow, but it would still be a super fun project.
I had been searching online for some kid-safe dying options. I found some great tutorials that use Kool-Aid or Food dye! These are a few of my favorites:
Smart Dying by Chalklegs Life Handmade
How to dye multi-color skeins with Kool-Aid by FreshStitches
How to Dye Speckled Yarn by Fiber Artsy & Crafts
Things you will need:
*Spoon/Chopstick/Plastic Straw (something to stir your dye)
*Wool Yarn (Acrylic or Cotton won’t work with this method)
*Kool-Aid (sugar free packs) or Food Coloring with White Vinegar
*1/3 cup measuring cup
*Glass 9 x 11 or 11 x 13 pan (I preferred the larger one)
Wool Yarn – I bought some Bare Wool yarn from Knit Picks. They have a great selection. I love knitting with bulky yarn, so I went with the Bare Wool of the Andes yarn. Knit Picks now has this in a Superwash version. This yarn was very reasonably priced.
Dye with Acid – I used some Kid Friendly Kool-Aid and Food Coloring. These are obviously non-toxic and safe for kids. If you are using Food Coloring you will need some Acid to help the color bond to the yarn. So I bought some White Vinegar. I used about 1/3 of a cup for each pan when soaking. Then I added a little more right before it went in the oven.
Most of the tutorials mention that you want to be careful with agitation & heat. You don’t want to have a drastic heat change. Also the agitation could cause your yarn to felt. So some slow swishing and pressing down is fine.
Soak Your Yarn – First we soaked our yarn in warm water and a little vinegar (about 1/3 of a cup in each pan) for 30 minutes. We pushed the yarn down in the warm water to make sure it was all soaked. If you are only using Kool-Aid, you don’t need the white vinegar. Kool-Aid has enough acid in it on it’s own. (But it probably wouldn’t hurt adding the vinegar.)
Drain Your Yarn – When it’s done soaking drain off most of the water, we left about 1/3 of the water in the dish. Leaving the yarn damp and a little bit of water in the bottom of the baking dishes (9 x 11 and 11 x 13 inch pans).
**Some of the tutorial’s I read removed all of the water from the pan and squeezed some of the water out of the yarn as well.
Add the Dye – We started with sprinkling Kool-aid, which end up in dumping it and a little tasting of the dry Kool-aid. Snow went with a random colorful scheme. She also poured some of the food coloring water on her yarn too. Cloud’s color planning was more thought out. He did three stripes. Teal food color, Purple food Color and Green Food color. We mixed water and food coloring in a 1/3 of a cup measuring cup, then poured it on different sections of the yarn. This added to the amount of water in each pan. By the time we were done, the water level was to almost the top of the yarn. I poked down the yarn with my gloved fingers to make sure the dye went all the way to the bottom of the yarn.
Hearts from Cloud and Snow is being shy
Heat – After no white was showing we popped the yarn in the dishes in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. (I would try a lower heat next time for a longer amount, so you don’t risk burning the yarn) When the yarn comes out the surrounding water was clear.
We left the yarn on the counter so it could cool to room temperature. Once it was all cool, we drained the water and rinsed it in room temperature water. I added a little bit of shampoo to help remove the vinegar smell and rinsed it out.
Gently squeeze out most of the water and then we hung it on our drying rack.
Not bad for our first try! And the kid’s basically dyed it themselves (4 and almost 8 year olds). I love the color combos we ended up with. I helped a little with the pushing of it down so the dye went all the way to the bottom. During the drying we noticed we didn’t get all of the parts drenched with dye, so some white specks were showing. Which I loved the look of it. So If you don’t want any white you will want to make sure to add lots of dye and press to make sure it’s all absorbed. After the yarn has cooled to room temp you can add more dye and start the process over again.
Next time I will remember to put plastic on my counters. Thankfully the quarts counters don’t soak up much colors and I was able to wipe it off.
I’d love to see what color combo’s you come up with! When posting pictures on social media use the hashtag #hccdyeyarn or Tag me on Instagram @happycloudcreations or share a photo on my Facebook – Facebook.com/ShopHappyCloudCreations
Happy Yarn dying!
*When the yarn was all dry some parts were a little lighter in color than when wet.
Since this was our first time dying yarn, I would recommend checking out the other tutorials above to see what method you like best.
I love how my kid’s hat’s turned out! I can’t wait to dye some more yarn! What would your favorite color combo be? Post in the comments!