Dyeing Yarn: Time for some fun in the kitchen!

Dyeing knitting yarn

Guests at my yarn-dying party

One of the most fun group activities my knitting group has done is dying sock yarn together. We put on old T-shirts and aprons, covered the outdoor tables with newspaper, and went for it.

We used dyes I bought online, and then set the color by steaming them in a big pan on the stove with a water/vinegar mixture. It was pretty stinky in the house for about a week afterwards, truth be told. But we had so much fun! Everyone’s yarn turned out so differently, each one beautiful in its own right.

It was a bit of a mess, though, carrying the yarn through the house to the kitchen for the dye-setting process. And the dyes were toxic, which I didn’t really like.

When I saw our new video, Kitchen Dyeing with Tanis Gray, I was inspired to have another dying party. Tanis uses non-toxic dyeing materials, and a mordant (more on that in a minute), which eliminates the vinegar-steaming process.

A mordant is simply a sort of glue that combines with the dyeing materials and makes them stick to the fibers. Tanis recommends alum, cream of tartar, or citric acid—all readily available and non-toxic.

Dyeing knitting yarn

From top left: Crock-pot dying with Kool-Aid and food coloring, a group of yarn dyed with beets,prepping yarn for solar dying, a beautiful medley of kitchen-dyed yarn, and some of the pantry and fridge items you can use to dye yarn.

Here are some stills I took from the video, to give you an example of the fun that awaits you!

In Kitchen Dyeing, Tanis talks about the best fibers to use, and how they take dye differently. For example, the photo in the top right corner of the collage above shows different yarns all dyed with beets, in the same dye pot for the same amount of time. Isn’t it interesting how different they all are?

Tanis says that to have the most fun dyeing yarn, you need to have a very healthy sense of adventure and a little bite of a mad scientist vibe. I love it! And I totally agree, because you never really know how the yarn is going to turn out.

Dyeing knitting yarn

Tanis dying yarn in her new video, Kitchen Dying

I learned a lot watching Kitchen Dyeing, and I know you will, too. Get your video (also available as a DVD) or get the kit, which will really get you started on the right track.

Our kit includes Kitchen Dying and a skein of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock yarn (enough for a pair of socks). This skein is special—it is the undyed base yarn that Lorna’s uses for their own amazing hand-dyed colorways.

You’ll also get a label with space to name your unique colorway and print it on the label along with the ingredients you used and the date. Cool!

Dying your own yarn with kitchen ingredients is a simple and affordable way to have fun, be create, and make your own custom colorways.

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