Introduction: How to Dye Wool Yarn With Coffee, Tea, and Turmeric

Picture of How to Dye Wool Yarn With Coffee, Tea, and Turmeric

I recently came into possession of a white ball of wool yarn, and I thought to myself, "Huh, how boring!" So I decided I would try my own attempt at dying yarn. I've never dyed yarn before so I started to do a lot of internet research, and what I found included a lot of crazy toxic dyes, all of which weren't readily available to me. But then I stumbled across this site: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/naturaldyes.html

It lists a bunch of natural ingredients and what colors they make. For the first time I was starting to think that this will be doable.

What you'll need:
Water
Vinegar
Coffee
Tea
Turmeric
Some bowls
A ball of white wool yarn

Step 1:

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First you are going to want to unwind your ball of yarn then tie one end (or both) with a piece of yarn.

Step 2:

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Now you need to prepare the yarn to be dyed. You do this by soaking the yarn in a bath made of 4 parts COLD water to 1 part vinegar. I used my sink and 192oz of water and 48oz of vinegar. Yes, I measured it in case you cared to know.

You need to let that soak for at least 30 minutes. Now what on earth will you do during those 30 minutes??? Why make your dye of course!

For the coffee dye: Make the strongest pot of coffee you've ever made in your life. I mean fill that filter as full of grounds as you can! You can even run it through twice if you like. The darker the roast of the coffee, the darker the shade you'll end up with. I only had medium roast on hand.

For the tea dye: Again, you'll be making strong tea and over steeping it as well. I used a fruity tea hoping for a pink color to the yarn, but it just made that portion of yarn dingy looking. Oh well.

For the turmeric dye: Heat up some water and stir in some ground turmeric until the water has a nice yellow hue to it.

Now let all the dyes cool to room temperature so you don't accidentally felt your yarn. Now that would be a tragedy!

Step 3:

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Now line up your bowls of dye on a towel so you don't make a huge mess!

Take your yarn out of the sink and gently wring it out. It doesn't have to be perfectly done.

Now drape the yarn into each bowl. As you can see from the pictures, I started out with two bowls, the coffee and the tea. But the white part between them was bothering me, so that's where I added in the turmeric!

Now let the yarn soak overnight so you end up with a great color from it.

Step 4:

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Is it the next day yet? Hooray! Now take the yarn out of the dye and put it in a sink with cold water and mild soap or wool soap. Gently wash it.

Now do the same thing to rinse the yarn. Fill up your sink with clean cold water and gently rinse the yarn.

Now gently wring it out!

Step 5:

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Now you must let it hang somewhere to dry. The colors will lighten a bit as it dries. The top of my yarn where it's brown is the color I got from the coffee, then the yellow is the turmeric (very pretty), and the bottom is where the tea didn't really do much.

Once it's dry, wrap it back up into a ball and go knit yourself something!
This is what I knitted with it! (look at the pictures)

And as always, don't forget to check out my blog! http://bonafideboho.blogspot.com/

Comments

KiranP2 (author)2015-09-02

Very nice! The turmeric turned out nicely. If you use more turmeric, it turns an amazing sunny yellow color.

annabenson6 (author)2014-03-27

I really like the pattern on the hat u made

hereistandi (author)2013-11-20

Thank you for your tutorial. I like to dye with natural things and I have everything you used. I will try the turmeric soon. As for your dilemma about the tea, SKILLZMCFLY said in her blog that she sets the dye with the heat of the microwave. I have used heat as well when I add the color and as long as I do not agitate the ingredients, my wool stays unfelted. I hope that helps rosy up your yarn. Thanks again.

ChrysN (author)2013-03-19

Thanks for posting this. It also works rally well with cotton yarn too. I dyed mine with turmeric which gave a beautiful yellow colour.

craftymegan (author)2012-12-07

A big part of why the color washed out with this experiment is because you let all the dye baths cool. Any coloring needs heat to bond with the fibers in the yarn. As long as you don't agitate the yarn while it's in the dye bath, it shouldn't felt. Also, not all natural dyes will bond without a mordant.

sunshiine (author)2012-01-09

Thanks for sharing! My mom always used this method.
Sunshiine

joechacon98 (author)2012-01-09

Very nice! It reminds me of the old days when people used plants and such to add colors. I remember in grade school we dyed eggs with blueberries and cranberries. Perhaps that would work on the yarn as well?

Here are some neat links:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/EasterEggDye.htm

http://www.pioneerthinking.com/crafts/crafts-basics/naturaldyes.html

Great job!

canucksgirl (author)2012-01-08

Very nice instructable. There is plenty to learn from the old ways of doing things. From my recollection, the pioneers also used berries to get shades of red or pink and used flowers and leaves for many additional colors.

Great job!

jessyratfink (author)2012-01-08

The yellow from the turmeric is stunning. Very nice!

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