It seems like everywhere you look (ok, maybe not everywhere, maybe just on pinterest), there's a tutorial on how to dye yarn with Kool Aid. When I first saw that you could do that, I'll admit, I got pretty excited. I immediately went to the store and bought a ton of kool aid and I dyed every white/natural skein of yarn I had with that stuff. I got really good results too! Good results only made me want to do it more, so I bought more yarn and went back to the grocery store to buy more kool aid. When I got to the drink mix aisle, I couldn't decide which colors to get though. There are only so many kool aid flavors and a lot of them are some sort of red. I wanted to make green yarn but my store didn't have lime kool aid. I also wanted to make deeper colors because I can only use so much neon yarn in my life.
After the initial excitement of dyeing yarn with a drink wore off, I realized how restricted I really was with the colors. I left the store without any sugary drink mixes that day and vowed to figure out something else to use that would give me the rainbow of colors I wanted. And food coloring seemed like the most obvious choice. 

Step 1: Supplies

Dyeing yarn with food coloring is just as easy as dyeing it with kool aid, but you do get a fuller rainbow of colors. You probably already have everything you need in your house too! (And if you don't, it's all incredibly easy to find.)


Yarn - Your yarn has to be 100% animal fiber. This means wool, alpaca, cashmere, etc. Wool is the easiest to work with and the least expensive, so I recommend starting with that. There are a lot of wool yarns to choose from which can be confusing sometimes. If you're having a hard time deciding on which yarn to buy, I recommend Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool. It's a worsted weight, which makes it very versatile, you get a lot of yarn for your money (465 yards!), and it's pretty inexpensive. Usually it sells for ten dollars or so, and even less if you bring a coupon to the craft store. (Make sure you check your craft store's website for one. Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Joann's usually have a coupon for 40% off one item!

White vinegar




Small spoon or scooping device

Microwave safe bowl
clear glass will be helpful later on but it's not required

Food coloring - You can use every day grocery store food coloring just as well as Wilton's gel food coloring. Each one will give you good results. The only difference between the two is saturation. Wilton gel food coloring is a lot more concentrated so you'll be able to get much brighter, richer results with it. They also have a ton of colors to choose from and can be found in the same craft store you found your yarn in.

Gather everything together and get ready to dye some yarn!
Can you use this same method with unspun wool please?
Great colors
<p>First time I did it I got the part at the elbow all twisted. What a mess that was! Second time worked like a charm! Thanks. Now to break out the tie dye kit for all this cotton. </p>
<p>A niddy noddy is a good way to wind yarn for this purpose. It isn't necessary to buy one, there are many tutorials available, this is just one example: </p><p>http://wizzley.com/what-is-a-niddy-noddy-and-why-would-you-want-to-make-one/</p>
<p>wind it around the back of a chair - it's easier</p>
I actually don't have any chairs capable of doing that so I figured other people might have that problem too. All of my chairs have large tops with decorative pieces at the top making it impossible to get off once I wind it on. Plus this make for a bigger skein. If you do have a chair capable, by all means do it up! It will make life a lot easier!
<p>thank you sooooo much for this.</p>
I made a rosey purpley color, teal, and green with a hint of blue. I want to use this dyed roving to make accessories for the people and animals of the Christmas Creche. As soon as I have pictures to post, I will post them. This makes the felting so maybe cheaper, easier, and fun!
Those colors sound beautiful! I can't wait to see the pictures! :)
Thank you for this tutorial. I need a way to dye wool that will be safe with children. I think I will try this.. I will let you know how the process turns out.
I look forward to hearing about it! I let my 5 year old daughter help out with dyeing all the time and she loves seeing how the colors mix. Her favorite part is putting the food coloring in though. Good luck!
I think ill just try it and post results here.
Acrylic won't work. You might get a slight tint to the yarn but it'll soon wash out because the dye is going to walk to just sit on top of the fibers instead of soaking in like it does with wool. If you'd like to dye acrylic yarn they do make dye for it but it's a little bit of a pain. RIT dye will work and so will iDye. I've only used iDye once and the smell is awful and it gets weird and goopy in the process but I did end up with a nice color result. <br><br>Nell
Question: Would using acrylic yarn affect anything? I ended up buying acrylic on accident.
Excellent tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.
Purty! Do you get any bleeding from food-coloring-dyed yarn when you wash the ultimate project?
I never have but I always wash my wool stuff by hand. It shouldn't bleed once it's been in the microwave because the heat and acid sets it, making it soak into the fibers. Usually bleeding occurs when the dye/color is sitting on top of the fabric or fibers, like when someone tries to dye cotton this way. Cotton needs a special mordant to force it to stick/soak in and without it the color just sits on top mostly. <br>I've never heard of anyone having a problem either. <br>If it ever happens to me or I hear of it happening to someone else, I'll make sure to update but I think you're pretty safe! :D
I, I like how the colours turne out, can I dye a t-shirt in this way? thanks, marcella.
Unfortunately no. T-shirts are usually made of cotton and plant fibers are a lot harder to dye for some reason. The easiest way I've come across to dye cotton is to use RIT dye. It's in most grocery and craft stores and it's pretty inexpensive. Plus they have a large variety of colors to choose from. I've dyed cotton yarn using it and it came out beautiful. The colors end up really saturated. <br>
too bad! thanks for answering. I used the RIT dye before and I liked it too.

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Bio: I have a problem. If I can do or make something myself instead of buying it, I'll do it. It doesn't matter how ... More »
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