Dyeing with Food Coloring


It is with great nail-biting nervousness that I write this post. When I do something I can never do it small and that goes for this blog as well as everything else I take on.

I have been very busy at work creating a new blog at my own address. This will be my last post at this current blog. Today I am moving all the previous posts, pictures, etc., etc. over to my new blog. I plan on keeping this here blog open for a few more days (weeks?) as I finish cleaning it all up and moving things around. All postings from this moment forward will be done at the new blog.

So, where exactly is this new blog? It can be found at here. Please keep in mind that this website is still very much a baby and I still have a lot of work to do before it is up to my satisfaction.

Thanks to everyone who has read this blog and left me just kind and encouraging comments. I look forward to seeing you at my new home.

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Dip dyed diaper soaker

I thought I would post a couple pictures of some of my finished diaper soakers that I knitted. Both were also hand-dyed by me. 🙂 I dyed them both with Wilton’s food coloring. The purple one I dip dyed and the other one I kettle dyed. The kettle dyed one was a lot of fun because you can be as random as you want to be. I really winged that one too and it turned out pretty nice I think. I made them both from the Flirty Skirky and Undersoaker pattern found at Little Turtle Knits.Kettle dyed diaper soaker

To kettle dye the yarn for one of the soakers I first started with yarn that I had soaked in water with a splash of vinegar for a few hours. I then added it to my empty dye pot. How you place the yarn in the pot will effect the resulting pattern as well as where you place the dye. To the pot, I then added some water to just cover the yarn. You don’t want to fill it too full of water because when you add your dye you will have more control over where it goes. Slowly heat the yarn and water to just below a simmer. As the yarn and water are heating up dissolve about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of food coloring gel in a cup with boiling water. Once the water and yarn are warm enough, slowly add one color of dye to an area of yarn. I like to use a turkey baster to apply the dye because it gives me more control over where the dye goes. Let the yarn stay just below a simmer in the pot until the dye has exhausted. You will know this has happened when the water turns clear. This means the yarn has absorbed all of the dye. Once the dye has exhausted you can add another color and not worry about the two dyes blending. Continue as described above until you have completed your yarn. Once dyeing is complete let the yarn cool completely and then rinse in warm soapy water. Have fun!

yarn dyed food coloring  In my last post, Disaster Yarn Saved, I mentioned that there was dye left over in the pot and I had dyed some yarn with it and was waiting for it to dry. Well, it is dry now and I re-skeined it and it is Beautiful! I really can’t believe I got such a nice color using only the food coloring gel. The only problem is don’t try to ask me to do it again! I just went for it and did a little of this and a little of that. To give a general run down this is what I did:

To begin I soaked one skein of Cascade 220 yarn in water with a splash of vinegar for several hours. I then added this to the pot of leftover dye that I heated to just below a simmer. I dipped in one section of the skein of yarn first and held it there for a few minutes. When I pulled it out it was too turquoise for me so I mixed up a very small dollop of purple food coloring paste with boiling water and added it to the dye bath. I then re-dipped the previous section. Then I mixed up another small dollop of food coloring this time in pink and once again added it to the pot. After mixing in the pink, I dipped the other end of the skein (which had not been dyed yet) into the pot. I then kind of eyeballed it from there and would dip the different ends of skein back and forth into the dye. Once I was satisified with the way it looked I left it to cool completely before rinsing it well. I am so pleased with the results of this one. And it amazes me too because I just winged it. This just goes to show you it really isn’t that difficult to dye yarn using food coloring so don’t be afraid to jump in and try it!

You can find the Wilton food coloring that I used at craft stores or on the web. If you are looking for more colors it is better to look online because the stores can be limited in what they carry. Amazon sells it and you can find it here: Wilton food colorings. You can also go directly to the Wilton online store

Well, maybe disaster is a rather strong word but that is certainly what it felt like yesterday, a complete disaster. Thankfully I remained calm.

It started with a vision I have had for some yarn to dye. I have had several successes with dip dyeing yarn using Wilton food coloring gels. I used the article at Knitty as a guide for how to do it. The results were very impressive on two skeins of yarn that I dyed. One skein was dip dyed in purple (that I’m knitting up into a diaper soaker) and another in blue (that is being knitted into a pair of socks for my oldest son). So impressive were the results, that I started envisioning dip dyeing some yarn using pink. I have wanted to knit up some pink diaper soaker pants for Princess A and thought they would be so cute dyed this way. With the purple and blue skeins, I gradually pulled yarn out of the dye bath so each section grew darker and darker the longer it was in the dye. I envisioned doing the same with the pink. I pictured the first section being white because I was not going to put that in the dye at all. Then the next section would be faintly pink followed by a slightly darker pink, then a little darker and so on and so on.

So, I prepared my skein, let it soak for several hours in water and began to prepare the dye. I did not feel like staining my crock-pot up so I prepared the dye bath in my pot that I have designated for dyeing. (The Knitty article tells you how to dip dye using a crock-pot but you can use the stove as long as you are careful about not letting the dye bath and yarn come to a boil.) I mixed a decent sized dollop (didn’t really measure it, just eyeballed it, it was probably about ½ teaspoon) of pink food coloring gel with boiling water and added it to my pot that contained 8 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar. Once the water was just below a simmer I dipped all but a handful of the yarn into the dye and held it there for a minute or so. When I lifted some of it out of the dye I gasped. It was insanely hot pink. I’m talking florescent hot pink. It was so unbelievably hot pink that you wanted to grab your sunglasses to prevent your eyes from watering. It actually hurt to look at it. It was nothing at all like my vision! But thankfully, I stayed calm and did not let myself get too upset after all it was only 280 yards of merino wool right?

Instead of throwing the yarn down and running out of the kitchen crying, I thought about the color wheel. Red and blue make purple right? Well, what if I were to add some blue food coloring to the dye pot and add the yarn back in? Sort of like overdyeing. So, once again I mixed up a dollop of dye, this time blue, with boiling water and added it to the pot. I dipped in half the yarn and when I took it out to check it was a cranberry maroon color. Not too bad, so I left that half in a little longer. While that half soaked I mixed up some purple food coloring gel with boiling water. I then took out the half that was now definitely maroon and set it in a bowl to cool. I added the dissolved purple dye to the pot followed by the other half of the skein that was still the awful hot pink. This half also included the part of the skein that I had left undyed- it was going to be dyed now. When I checked this half it had turned a nice shade of reddish purple, not maroon though. The thing that surprised me was the end of the skein that was previously left undyed. It ended up being dyed a periwinkle blue. Very pretty. So pretty in fact that I saved the rest of the dye bath because there was still a lot of dye left in the pot and I thought I could try dyeing a whole skein with it the next day which is exactly what I did today.

Below is a picture of the disaster yarn. I have to say, I am very surprised by the results. It is absolutely nothing at all like I had day dreamed about but I still really like it and I am still going to make some diaper soaker pants (or longies as they are known to be) out of it. The skein I dyed from the left over dye is still drying. It turned out equally as nice. I will try to post a picture of it once it is dry. Also here is a picture of the blue yarn that I dip dyed using the Wilton food coloring being knitted into a pair of socks.

Disaster Yarn Saved

Dip dyed food coloring yarn