Here is a list of the tutorials, if you have not seen them all.

Day One – Kool Aid Dyeing

Day Two – Liquid Food Color Dyeing

Day Three – Wilton Gel Food Color Dyeing

Day Four – Acid Dyeing


I have previously said that I probably would not dye with food coloring or powdered drink mixes. I will probably have to recant that statement. I find the colors to be vibrant and fascinating.

Oh and just so you know- I did not differ in any way from MY normal process.  These are the tools I use (and more, for different types of dyeing).

Q & A:

1. You mentioned that dark colors sometimes break using vinegar. If that happened and you put your yarn in anyway, would it still work to dye the yarn in those base colors, or would it not work at all?
A: It would still dye the yarn, but you will end up with a variety of colors (like purple and orange), not just the primary colors. And of course- you will have a little black. Some people like that, and there are even some dyers out there who INTENTIONALLY break black, and use the results as one of their colorways.

2. How do you have enough room for all your samples, and what do you do with them once they are dry?
A. I use my torture device to dry the samples (and full skeins of yarn).

Here is my torture device:

It is a clothesline hanging rack. You can find them on Amazon. I just hang it on my shower rod, and if we need to shower- we move it to the closet (with a bucket to catch the dripping water), shower, and then return it to the shower rod.

Once they are dry, I will snip off a few feet and put them in my samples book.

Here is my samples book:

It is a coin collection album. It’s about half the size of a sheet of paper, and holds 120 entries. I will put the description behind it, like J- Fire Red, 100% of 1% dye stock. (The J is for Jacquard Acid Dye. If I use a Dharma dye, it would be D. For Kool-Aid, I would use KA.) If I’m doing gradients, I would put something like J- Fire Red, 80% of 1% dye stock. The next one would be J- Fire Red, 60% of 1% dye stock. And so on.

The rest of the samples- I’ll use.  It’s still yarn! 😀

3. For powdered drink dyes (Kool-Aid)- does the dye wash out over time?
A. No. The dye is permanent. Now- they WILL fade a bit over time with exposure to light, but that is mainly because it is a weaker concentration of acid dye.

4. Is there white dye?
A. For most fabric/yarn dyes- no. And bleaching is an iffy process. You usually just start with white yarn and isolate the sections you want to stay white. However, for food coloring- there is! Here is a link to white food coloring on Amazon.  Also, Wilton has both a white liquid coloring, and a white gel coloring. White mixed with normal colors will make your colors brighter. I have not tested it out yet, but I plan to do so.

5. How much mordant do I need for a full skein of yarn, or a couple of skeins of yarn?
A. For citric acid, the formula is 1 tablespoon per pound of fabric. Since 1 skein of yarn is about 1/4 of a pound- I usually just use one teaspoon for dyeing single skeins. I always mix it with 2 cups of water and pour it in my dye bath. Although you CAN go below a teaspoon- I do not. It’s just laziness. Plus- I know with absolute certainty, that I have enough.

For white distilled vinegar- you need 3 tablespoons for every 100 grams of yarn. That’s about 45 ml of vinegar.

Some people will also add vinegar to the presoak. That’s probably overkill, but whatever works. As long as you rinse properly after you’re done dyeing- you should have no problems. You really can’t have too much mordant (within reason), but you CAN have not enough.

6. What are other dye stocks I can make?
A. This is all based on the 1 gram to 100 ml of water ratio.

.5% dye stock: 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) of dye to 500 milliliters of water.
1% dye stock: 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of dye to 500 milliliters of water.
2% dye stock: 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of dye to 250 milliliters of water.
4% dye stock: 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of dye to 125 milliliters of water.
5% dye stock: 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of dye to 100 milliliters of water.

2% or 4% is usually to what you want to mix your black dye stock. The reason is that if you’re looking for a nice, rich black- 1% dye stock will not get you there.

This is my latest round of stock dyes:

I’ve been mixing everything to 2%. And it’s easy to get 1% out of a 2% stock, you just measure everything to a total of 50ml, instead of 100 ml.

You just measure out 100 ml of 1% dye stock to one 100 gram skein of yarn. Or scale down if you’re using multiple colors. For instance- if you’re dyeing a skein equal parts of three colors- you would use 34 ml of one color, 33 ml of the second color, and 33 ml of the third color.

7. I have a skein of wool yarn that I bought from [insert indie dyer here OR commercial yarn company]. It bleeds, can I fix that?
A. This actually happens fairly frequently. I have a commercial yarn I bought from an online yarn store. The yarn is a blue/purple variegation from Italy. And it bleeds. A LOT. This is usually from using a LOT of dye during the dye process, but it could be the normal Turquoise/blue problem. Blues take longer to bond with the yarn, so they need more time. Which means if you have a set time to go about your yarn dyeing process, and you don’t make allowances for blue dye- you will have yarn that bleeds.

If you are using it in a project with other colors- you will need to set the yarn itself. If it is the only yarn you will be using for your project, you can wait until you have made the finished product to set it. Make sure it’s animal fiber yarn. Plant fibers use a different mordant, and different temperatures to set the dye.

You will need to wind the yarn into a skein (with a few ties to keep it manageable). Place a large stock pot (at least 14 quarts) on the stove, fill at least halfway with water and heat on medium. When water is hot- add a few teaspoons of citric acid or a few tablespoons of vinegar (per 100 grams of yarn). Put the yarn in and let it cook for at least 45 minutes.

Turn the heat off and let it sit until completely cool (or overnight) and the dye bath water is clear. This is heat setting the yarn. Rinse with cool water. If water runs clear- the dye has set. Lay flat to dry.

Just rinsing with vinegar will not set the dye. You need the mordant PLUS heat PLUS TIME.

Microwave instructions: In a big bowl, measure out your mordant and add to water. Put your skeined yarn in water to soak for at least an hour. Take out of bowl, squeeze out excess water (skein needs to be saturated, but not dripping), and wrap in plastic wrap. Microwave in 1-minute increments until yarn is hot and steaming. Let cool COMPLETELY before you unwrap and rinse. If rinse water does not run clear- repeat the process. Lay flat to dry.

You can use the same instructions for your finished product.

8. What resources can you point me to for dyeing?
A. First- there are a TON of YouTube videos out there. A metric ton, even. 🙂 Some are good, some are bad, and some are phenomenal! The thing about most of these, though, is they forget to tell you everything that they use, and they sometimes skip steps. It’s not their fault- most don’t even realize they are doing it. They just assume you already have some dyeing knowledge, OR they don’t stop to think about the questions that someone who has never dyed anything would have on the process.  Basically- if you find a process and it works for you- use it.  They would not have put it up on YouTube, if they didn’t want to share it.

Second- I joined several groups on Ravelry before I ever bought a drop of dye. I wanted to know the process (yes, I thought there was just one way of dyeing yarn), so I lurked everywhere I could. I joined OTHER groups that people mentioned in those threads. And I learned. Two groups I would definitely recommend is What A Kool Way To Dye (dedicated to Kool-Aid dyeing) and Love To Dye (dedicated to ALL types of Dyeing). Read their archived threads! Chances are- someone else has asked the questions you want to ask, you just need to dig a little.

Third- CreativeBug has a Kool-Aid Yarn Dyeing class.  It’s $9.95 if you aren’t a member, and 1 credit if you ARE a member. (Credits are usually cheaper to use.)  I haven’t watched it yet, but it is in my list of classes.

Fourth- Craftsy has a Yarn Dyeing class.  I happened to catch it on sale for 50% off, when I bought it a few months ago. It is currently on sale for $14.99 This is the class that gave me the confidence to finally try it out for myself.

Beyond that- there is Paula Burch’s website, which has lots of information on different types of dyeing. A lot of it is really technical (especially when you get into washfastness and lightfastness of particular dyes), so I’d advise you to dip your toe into dyeing before you visit her site. The reason for that is that some of her terminology will make more sense, once you have a frame of reference.

If you have another question that I did not cover- please ask it in the comments.  I will try to answer it for you, OR point you to someone who DOES have the answer.