Instructables

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

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. 

 
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lizmeow2 months ago

thank you sooooo much for this.

hereistandi8 months ago
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!
skillzmcfly (author)  hereistandi8 months ago
Those colors sound beautiful! I can't wait to see the pictures! :)
hereistandi8 months ago
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.
skillzmcfly (author)  hereistandi8 months 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.
skillzmcfly (author)  theeucraine70_58 months ago
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.

Nell
Question: Would using acrylic yarn affect anything? I ended up buying acrylic on accident.
kbrooks310 months 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?
skillzmcfly (author)  piperskeeper1 year 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.
skillzmcfly (author)  marcellahella1 year 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.