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Dyer’s Reference Library: RED

By Gina Rockenwagner on May 31, 2021

We tend to think of Red as a primary color, grouped with Blue and Yellow. But in the dyeing world, the primary pigment closest to the primary color red is actually magenta! Red dye is always made up of several colors, so it cannot be considered a primary pigment by definition.

Technical matters aside, red is a hugely important color! The color of lipstick, poppies, tomatoes and chili peppers, I cannot imagine a single day passing without using something red. 

To get you ready for the Fall dyeing season, which some might say has already arrived, we’re dyeing up 3 shades of red and reviewing them! Let us know your favorite in the comments.



  • 3 skeins of Knomad EGGSHELL yarn – 70% merino wool, 30% nylon. The dyes used in this project will work well on any of our yarns, but keep in mind non superwash wool absorbs dye differently from superwash wool. STEAM is made from superwash wool. For more information the differences between superwash and non superwash wool, check out this article.
  • Dharma Trading co dye for silk and wool. I used the colors PERSIMMON, and CAYENNE RED, and Procion MX dyes for natural fibers in the color CARMINE RED.
  • Gram scale
  • 3 cups to mix the dye in
  • Citric acid powder
  • Metal chafing pan
  • Your regular set up for heat setting yarn
  • Optional: 3 zip ties



Loop a zip tie around each skein of yarn, if you are using them.

Soak the yarn in lukewarm water with a dash of citric acid for about 1 hour. While your yarn soaks…



Make sure to always protect yourself with gloves and a respirator whenever you work with dye in its powder form. A dust mask or surgical mask is not enough protection to safely work with dye powder!

Measure 1.5 grams of each color of dye into each of the three cups. Add 1 gram of citric acid to each cup. Top each cup with hot water.

Mix each cup well.



Pour the entire contents of one of the cups of dye into the pan. Add water to the pan until you have about 1-2 inches of liquid in the pan. Stir gently.

Remove one skein from the soaking liquid, gently squeezing the excess liquid out of the yarn. You want the skein to be damp, but not sopping wet. 

Place the skein in the pan, pressing it down so the skein is fully submerged in the dye. Use the back of a spoon to work the dye into the yarn for even color.  

Cover the pan and heat the yarn for 10-15 minutes or until the dye is completely absorbed by the yarn. Remove the cover and allow the yarn to cool until barely warm.



Rinse and dry the yarn as you normally would.

Repeat the above steps with the other two colors of dye and remaining two skeins of yarn.





This red is a bright red that is slightly on the cool side. Reminiscent of lipstick, this red would look great in a Christmas sweater, stocking or a cute pair of colorwork socks. I think of Rudolph’s nose when I see this color red!



Cayenne red is definitively a tomato red. This color red is my favorite one to wear because it works in all seasons. More on the orange side than the blue side, this spicy red reminds me of chili peppers and ground spices.



Persimmon come in all different hues, so I was surprised at how orange this color turned out! This color reminds me more of a carrot than a persimmon. At a darker intensity it might resemble red more closely. This color would look fabulous in a Fall fair isle sweater in a fun pattern.



Enjoy your finished yarn! Make sure to tag us using #Knomadyarn so we can see all your fabulous projects.

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Gina Rockenwagner

Gina Fama Röckenwagner (she/her) is a color-obsessed knit designer and textile artist based in Los Angeles, California. Her work has been featured in Vogue Knitting, Pom Pom Quarterly, and Purl Soho’s eponymous blog. She founded her line of soft, comfortable, and size-inclusive clothing, SOFT HAUS, in 2015. When not working on yarn-related endeavors, Gina can be found quilting, biking, baking and watching trashy tv with her cats, Paloma and Blooper.

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