Picture of How to Dye Yarn with Food Coloring (Plus other tips!)
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. 

GillianP11 month ago
Can you use this same method with unspun wool please?
ShariK31 month ago
Great colors
SheriK13 months ago

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.

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:


JodieT11 year ago

wind it around the back of a chair - it's easier

FatBottomPurls (author)  JodieT11 year ago
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!
lizmeow1 year ago

thank you sooooo much for this.

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!
FatBottomPurls (author)  hereistandi1 year ago
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.
FatBottomPurls (author)  hereistandi1 year ago
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.

Question: Would using acrylic yarn affect anything? I ended up buying acrylic on accident.
kbrooks31 year ago
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?
FatBottomPurls (author)  piperskeeper2 years ago
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.
I've never heard of anyone having a problem either.
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.
FatBottomPurls (author)  marcellahella2 years ago
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.
too bad! thanks for answering. I used the RIT dye before and I liked it too.