Food coloring is a fun, versatile, and kitchen-safe option for yarn dyeing. My first skeins were dyed with food coloring and I was hooked instantly! I loved that I could try out yarn dyeing without having to commit to having completely separate tools for my entire dye setup. Today, I am going to show you how I dyed a custom shade of bright coral using food coloring.
For dyeing, I prefer to use gel food coloring as it results in bright colors and a little goes a long way. Gel food coloring can be found in the cake decorating section of your local craft store.
This post uses MAGNOLIA which is a soft and shiny superwash blend that absorbs the color beautifully. The yarn really enhances the brightness of the dye. Other yarns that would work well include EGRET, MARSHMALLOW DK, and LATTE. Let’s get started!
If you are using zip ties, loop a zip tie around each skein. Fill a large bowl with cool water and submerge your two skeins of MAGNOLIA. Allow the skeins to fully absorb the water. This typically takes about an hour.
Fill your cup with 8 ounces of the hottest water out of your tap. Dissolve a half teaspoon of IVORY, a half teaspoon of PINK, and a quarter teaspoon of LEMON YELLOW. Dissolving the gel food coloring can take some time. I find using a fork to stir can help break up the gel food and expedite the process. Once the dye is fully dissolved, you have created a dye concentrate and are ready to prepare your dyeing vessel.
Fill your slow cooker or stockpot up to about 3 inches from the top with cool water. Stir in the dye concentrate until it is fully mixed into the dye bath. The cool water of the dye bath will bring down the temperature of the dye concentrate. Right now we are working with superwash wool, so felting isn’t really a concern. Whenever you work with non-superwash wool you want to avoid changing temperatures drastically as that can shock the yarn and cause it to felt.
Dissolve a dash of citric acid or a glug of white vinegar into the dye bath. Stir well.
Squeeze out the excess water from your presoaked MAGNOLIA yarn and add it to the dye. Gently swish the yarn in the dye vessel to ensure the dye is flowing evenly around the yarn. If you are using a slow cooker, put the lid on and set the dial to high. If you are working with a stockpot on a stovetop, set the burner to medium and put the lid on. Keep an eye on your yarn to make sure it does not simmer and reduce heat if needed.
Allow the yarn to sit on the heat until the dye bath is fully exhausted. When the dye bath is exhausted, the surrounding water will be clear. This means that the yarn has absorbed all of the available pigment. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Allow the yarn to cool fully before handling.
Once the yarn is fully cooled, squeeze out the excess water and rinse (Check our guide here!) the yarn fully under cool running water. Squeeze the excess water and hang the yarn to dry somewhere with good airflow. If you are hanging your yarn inside, place a towel underneath to catch any drips.
Once your yarn is dyed and dried it is ready to be used! MAGNOLIA is a sock weight yarn so your new coral skeins could turn into your new favorite pair of socks, a hat, or you could gift your favorite crafty friend some hand-dyed yarn! Don’t forget to tag us on social media @knomad_yarn. We can’t wait to see what you make!