Friday, January 27, 2012

DIY: Dyeing Wool with Tea, Coffee, and Turmeric

I recently came into possession of a white ball of wool yarn, and I thought to myself, "Huh, how boring!" So I decided I would try my own attempt at dying yarn. I've never dyed yarn before so I started to do a lot of internet research, and what I found included a lot of crazy toxic dyes, all of which weren't readily available to me. But then I stumbled across this site: It lists a bunch of natural ingredients and what colors they make. For the first time I was starting to think that this will be doable. And you know what, it totally was doable! In fact I entered this idea into a contest on instructables. Click here to Vote on it and help me become a finalist!
Yup, I'm totally being "that" person right now.
What you'll need:
Some bowls
A ball of white wool yarn

First you are going to want to unwind your ball of yarn then tie one end (or both) with a piece of yarn.

Now you need to prepare the yarn to be dyed. You do this by soaking the yarn in a bath made of 4 parts COLD water to 1 part vinegar. I used my sink and 192oz of water and 48oz of vinegar. Yes, I measured it in case you cared to know.

You need to let that soak for at least 30 minutes. Now what on earth will you do during those 30 minutes??? Why make your dye of course!

For the coffee dye: Make the strongest pot of coffee you've ever made in your life. I mean fill that filter as full of grounds as you can! You can even run it through twice if you like. The darker the roast of the coffee, the darker the shade you'll end up with. I only had medium roast on hand.

For the tea dye: Again, you'll be making strong tea and over steeping it as well. I used a fruity tea hoping for a pink color to the yarn, but it just made that portion of yarn dingy looking. Oh well.

For the turmeric dye: Heat up some water and stir in some ground turmeric until the water has a nice yellow hue to it.

Now let all the dyes cool to room temperature so you don't accidentally felt your yarn. Now that would be a tragedy!

 Now line up your bowls of dye on a towel so you don't make a huge mess!

Take your yarn out of the sink and gently wring it out. It doesn't have to be perfectly done.

Now drape the yarn into each bowl.

Now let the yarn soak overnight so you end up with a great color from it.

 Is it the next day yet? Hooray! Now take the yarn out of the dye and put it in a sink with cold water and mild soap or wool soap. Gently wash it.

Now do the same thing to rinse the yarn. Fill up your sink with clean cold water and gently rinse the yarn.

Now gently wring it out!

Now you must let it hang somewhere to dry. The colors will lighten a bit as it dries. The top of my yarn where it's brown is the color I got from the coffee, then the yellow is the turmeric (very pretty), and the bottom is where the tea didn't really do much.

Once it's dry, wrap it back up into a ball and go knit yourself something!
This is what I knitted with it!

You can knit this yourself by going to Ravelry via this link, sign in and download the pdf. It is a really fun cables project and I would totally knit a bunch more of these!!


  1. This is gorgeous! The colors kind of remind me of scrambled eggs and biscuits 'n gravy.

    Maybe I'm just hungry. LOL!

  2. this is amazing I always wondered if dying was possible, so going to try this today. Thanks for the tips!


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