I’ve been getting requests to do a dying with food coloring tutorial for a while now (Hi Mom!), so let’s do it. Dying with Kool-Aid is fun and all, and leaves your knitwear smelling fruity fresh, but there is a very limited color selection with it. And, unless you’re six years old, you probably don’t want a “Blastin’ Berry Cherry” colored sweater.
Here’s what you need:
-Food Coloring. I like the gel concentrate stuff from Wilton. It’s super concentrated, so you can use just a little bit and still get really bright colors. And, it comes in approximately a million shades. I bought this box of 12 colors for about $10 (with a coupon from JoAnn’s), and it’ll last me years. You can use the regular liquid colors from the grocery store, but you’ll have to use a lot more volume to get brightly colored yarn.
-Vinegar. To set the color into your yarn, you have to add an acid, and plain white vinegar works best. It’s dirt cheap, and you probably have a bottle of it in the back of your cupboard. (We didn’t use vinegar when dying with Kool-Aid, since it already has citric acid added to the powder, so you don’t have to add any more. Science!)
-Yarn. Just like with the Kool-Aid, this kind of dying only works with animal fibers (wool, alpaca, angora, silk). It has to do with the protein makeup of the yarn, but I don’t know all the science behind it. I just know that if you try it with acrylic or cotton, it’ll never take up the color. I’m using Paton’s Classic Worsted. It’s a 100% wool yarn, and it’s easy to find at your local Jo-Ann’s/Michael’s/Hobby Lobby.
-Water. Duh. From the tap is fine.
-A non-reactive vessel. (Just like with dying with Kool-Aid) Stainless steel, enamel, glass or non-stick/Teflon work well.
Collect up your gear, and meet me back here next week when I’ll show you how to dye semi-solid and variegated yarn. And (if the time management gods smile upon me), I’ll give you a pattern to use your newly dyed yarn!