Sun Dyeing Yarn…

As part of our crafts we enjoy with our homeschooling days, we decided it would be tremendous fun to do a sun dye… First we soaked our undyed Merino yarn in vinegar water, I had about 3 litres of water to 1 cup of vinegar. We let the skeins soak for about 20 minutes.
Then we squeezed the vinegar water out of the skeins.
We used nice large glass jars with screw top lids for the dyeing. Fill just under halfway with warm water and add a little vinegar too. Then place your skein into the water until it is fully submerged.
We used food colouring for our dyes. Erin chose a few colours, green was one of them. Above she is pouring the colouring into the glass jar, just a little at a time and then change to another colour. I usually use a metal spoon and gentle move the yarn about so that the colouring reaches different areas of the yarn, then quickly add another colour and move the yarn again so that a lovely varigation of colours can form.
Cadien’s sun dye on the left and Erin’s on the right. Once the colouring has been added, we put the lids on the jars and carried them outside to a really warm spot. We left them there for most of the day. The sun really heats up the water to almost boiling…
Kye said he would like to sit with his jar and watch it , so he found a spot right next to his blue jar, and he did… (He wanted to dye his yarn blue like Pelle, from Elsa Beskow’s book Pelle’s New Suit ).When you are finished, fill up a sink with cold water, bring the jars inside, open the lids and let the water cool down in the jars. Then take out the skeins gently and place them into the sink water to rinse. Rinse gently until there is no more colour run off and then hang them up to dry outside.
This is the end result! Caiden’s on the left, Erin’s is the green and the blue is Kye’s. They are quite varigated from the twists in the skeins and should knit up beautifully… This was such a wonderful experience for all of us…
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33 Responses to Sun Dyeing Yarn…

  1. Rene' Sharp January 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    What a fabulous idea Linda!! Did you spin the wool yourself? I think I am going to have to try this myself, now where to get some undyed yarn? Suppose I will have to spin myself some!! Love your photography as usual, stunning!

  2. Linda January 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    Hello Rene’
    Thanks so much, I didn’t spin this yarn, I have a huge stash of it that I am selling, it is incredibly chunky and slubbed, perfect for dyeing and knitting hats and jerseys:) Thanks for stopping by.

  3. mummybear January 14, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Love the colours and what a childfriendly way to dye.

  4. Maria January 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm #

    OOoh, this looks like fun! Thanks for the Demo! I know what we are doing next week. Hopefully the sun will cooperate.
    Love the yarn!

  5. angela January 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

    I love that Idea you have to post the finished knits. I will definately do this in the summer. Did you use just regular food coloring? Where did you get the undyed wool? Thanks for sharing.

  6. Joy January 14, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    That’s a very cool idea, Linda! We might have to try that this summer. 🙂

  7. Linda January 14, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Hi Angela,
    Thanks so much for leaving a comment:) The undyed wool is South African Merino, it has been handspun by women in South Africa that are part of a community upliftment project, the spinning of this yarn created job opportunities for them. I buy this wool from them and I sell it for around $ 8.00 per 100 gram / 3.5 ounce skein. This particular batch is very chunky and soft and has a lovely slubb to it. My daughter Erin has started knitting with her geen wool that she has just dyed and it looks so soft and warm…

  8. Jill January 15, 2010 at 2:33 am #

    Love it, Linda! The whole process seems so peaceful and perfect for the children.

  9. Dawn January 15, 2010 at 4:53 am #

    Wow! That wool did come out beautifully. I think that’s so cute that your son wanted blue wool like Pele. 🙂

  10. farmama January 15, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    The yarn came out so beautiful Linda! I love the colors…and your photos are fantastic! I can’t wait to see what you make with that lovely yarn!

  11. goldenbird January 15, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    The yarn looks beautiful, Linda. I would love to try that some day. How sweet that Kye wanted to sit with his jar and watch it.

  12. Mona January 15, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Wow, so easy and the result is beautiful. I wonder if all food dyes would be suitable for dying yarn…? – I’m not sure it could be possible so far up north I live, but I will certainly give it a try when summer returns. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Linda January 15, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Hello Mona,
    Welcome to my blog, thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind comments:)

  14. messyfish January 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    oh it makes me want to knit!

  15. K January 15, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    I had no idea you could sun dye yarns. Considering buying a sheep, now. But I know I never will. I wish you could make yarn from horses’ hair. Once, I bought these interesting dyes for fabric – I washed my muslin and spread them flat on the drive, poured the dye and spread it across the wet fabric, the scattered things on the material – little mylar stars, flat leaves, a little rock salt here and there. Wherever those things landed, the dye did not take. But where the sun had access to the surface of the fabric, the dyes took beautifully, settling in deep jewel tones. I’ve used some of it in quilts, but it was hard to cut that fabric up. To lovely.

  16. K January 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Linda – what is the shipping to the US?

  17. Linda January 15, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

    Hello Kay,
    It sounds like your muslin dyed up beautifully…
    The shipping to the US is $ 6.50 per 100 grams / 3.5 ounces skein:)

  18. Hip Mountain Mama January 16, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    This is so cool! I am going to definitly give this a try in Spring or Summer! Thanks for the tutorial!

  19. Kelly January 17, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    This is great fun, Linda! My boys often love playing at being Pelle so I can just imagine how much Kye loved dyeing his yarn up blue like Pelle’s!

  20. January 19, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    That turned out so gorgeous! I want to try it as well. Thanks for sharing:-)

  21. woolies January 19, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    It’s been ages since I dyed yarn. Yours came out just beautifully!!

  22. Prettydreamer January 24, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    Super gorgeous!!

  23. Amanda May 14, 2010 at 6:46 pm #

    Beautiful results! What a fun project!

  24. Dutch Hollow May 14, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    Great colors! I love how everyone had their own project.

  25. AllyB May 14, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    Thanks for the dyeing lesson! That looks simple enough for me to try, LOL The yarns turned out very nice, love the green. Happy FAF.

  26. Allison May 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    What’s best about your dyeing project is that is so simple with beautiful results! I homed schooled for two years. Your children are fortunate to be learning fiber arts!

  27. WonderWhyGal May 15, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    Great idea to experiment with the kids plus let mother nature do the work. Beautiful colors.

  28. jessecreations May 15, 2010 at 1:20 am #

    I love this! My daughter really wants to learn to dye, but I’m afraid to let her play with my “real” ones. This is a great way for her to do it instead!!


  29. The Handmaden May 15, 2010 at 5:37 am #

    Gorgeous Linda, I had no idea you could use food colouring with wool. I’ll have to try that with my little ones!

  30. Het Wolbeest March 29, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I’m defenitely going to try it this summer! I love the colors! Warm regards. Alexandra

  31. Sherri June 20, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this dyeing technique with us! I will definitely have to try it. Have a great day!!

  32. bojana August 27, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    hi. i love how the dyed yarn turned. beautifull colors. i have one question, though. will the color stay after you wash it many times? if you knit something for wearing, it will be washed many times. is hand washing more suitable than mashine washing?
    thank you.


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