In my never ending quest for thrifty crafting, I decided to buy some white Ice Wool yarn from a knitter who was thinning down her stash. Why white? So I can dye it any color I want. Now I admit that I will not be able to match a yarn dye lot exactly, but if I want to make something of a certain color, all I have to do is color the yarn. I’d already been doing this with white roving for felting.
I remember my mother dying things in the washing machine with RIT dye. And I have seen my fiber friends work magic in vats with purchased professional dyes or even dyes that they have made themselves.
It’s a lot easier to dye yarn in a microwave oven, especially if you’re doing small amounts like I am here. I tied the skein in the picture above so it would not get tangled and I soaked it for about a half hour to 45 minutes in warm water so it would be more absorbent. I added about a tablespoon of citric acid to the water. You can also use vinegar. This softens the yarn and will help the dye set when you add it.
Wilton’s food color makes a great dye for natural fabrics like wool. You can also use Kool Aid but you won’t have the range of colors.
I like to add dye with a wooden chopstick. A little goes a long way. Another method is to mix the dye with water in a separate container and add it to the big container. This will give you a more uniform dye job. Remember to wear plastic gloves if you don’t want to dye your hands as well and be sure to cover anything that the dye would stain. Which is pretty much everything. I’ve used a clear Pyrex bowl to hold my project, and that’s what I recommend to you.
Microwave on high for 8 minutes at a time and then remove from the oven. You can add more dye at this stage. And be careful because the bowl will be hot! Use oven mitts. You don’t need to cover the dye bath.
I went for a hand painted kind of look
Let the wool sit for about 15 minutes. Keep repeating this process until the water is clear. Let the dye bath cool and squeeze (don’t rub or wring- you don’t want felt) the water out of the yarn and hang up to dry.
The finished product.