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Dyeing to Colour You

Updated: Aug 18

hand dyed small blanket

Have you ever tried dyeing your projects. This is not something that I do often as I tend to dye my wool before I spin it. I do this using food colouring.

A while ago I had crochet a rectangle with unspun fleece that was difficult to spin, it was white and rather boring. It sat around for a long time before I did anything with it. I only decided to do something with it when I wanted to do a dyeing experiment. I wanted to see what would happen if I just put the food colouring on the the top of what I was dying. Would it draw the colour all the way down?. I hoped so, and if so how strong would the colour be? There was only one way to find out and that was to do some dyeing.

Before I started, I from past experience that different types of wool take up the dye in different ways, which meant that the result would only give me a gauge of what might happen.

What I did was fold my piece into quarters and placed it my dying vessel. I like the results it gave as there are different levels of colour colour intensity.

If you are interested in dyeing some of your wool projects or wool yarn I will tell you how I go about dyeing. I use white vinegar as my mordant, so if you don’t like the smell of vinegar this is not the project for you.

What You Will Need:

Wool or a woollen project

Food colouring in the colour of your choice (this is your dye)

White vinegar (this is your mordant)

A heat proof bowl or dish (this is your dyeing vessel)

An oven or microwave

Step 1:

I begin by making my wool soaking wet in a bath of water and white vinegar. Being a bit of a bucket chemist, when I dye, I don’t measure how much vinegar that I use, but I estimate it to be about a quarter vinegar.

Let this stand for at least half an hour to really let the wool fibres soak up the water.

Step 2:

For a mottled effect, pull the wool out of the soaking liquid and place it in your dyeing vessel without letting it drain.

For full coverage, leave the wool in the same vessel that you used as a bath or transfer it to a heat proof bowl or dish.

Step 3:

Add the dye to your wool.

For a mottles effect sprinkle the dye over the wool in random fashion. You can use more than one colour if you like.

For full coverage add the dye to the soaking liquid. You can also use more than one colour. Place the colours at opposite ends and the let the convection currents when we heat it to blend them together.

Once again, since I am a bucket chemist, when I dye, I am not sure how much to use. Just make sure that it looks dark enough for the result you are after. The more dye you put in the more dye your wool can absorb.

Step 4:

If you are going to use and oven, place the dyeing vessel in the oven for an hour at about 120oC or the closest temperature you have, erring on the side of a little cooler is better. Then once the hour is up, let it cool in the oven.

If you are going to use a microwave, it takes a little more attention. Place the dyeing vessel in the microwave and cook it on high for five minutes, taking care not to let the liquid boil over. After this, cook it in increments of two minutes till you are happy enough dye has been taken up or you reach 15 minutes of cooking. Allow to cool.

Step 5:

Once the wool has cooled, it needs to be rinsed. You can do this in your sink or outside, it is up to you.

Keep rinsing till the water runs clear.

Step 6:

Allow your wool to dry completely.

Step 7:

Enjoy your newly dyed wool or woollen project.

There you have it. How to dye using food colouring. I do enjoy a good dyeing session and I hope you will too.

drying racks with hand dyed wool fleece drying after being dyed

Thanks for reading and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.


drying racks with hand dyed wool fleece drying after being dyed

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