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4364 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  10:55:33 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Lion Brand Yarn  By Kids, For Kids: July, 2007

Natural Dyes from Edible Items

Creating your own dyes can be a fun and exciting way to personalize projects.  This month, we show you how to make all-natural dyes and use them with different cotton and wool yarns.

Lion Wool, Lion Organic Cotton, Lion Cotton, Fisherman Wool and RufflesDyes in the Raw: Yellow Onions, Red Onions, Beets, Red Cabbage, Turmeric and more...  

Beautiful, naturally-dyed yarn

We used only edible items purchased at our local market, boiling water and (in some cases) salt to make beautiful, all-natural dyes. 

After trying our dyes, you will probably want to experiment with other natural food dyes of your own.  Start by using fruits or vegetables that stain and experiment!  You can mix dye baths to make different colors.  You will probably find, as we did, that the colors are all -- surprise -- "earth" tones!

Because this project requires boiling water, adult supervision is required.

Did you make a dye that you particularly like?  Send the recipe to and you could see it published in a future issue!

-- Elizabeth -- 

P.S.  Did you like this issue?  If you are not already a subscriber to BK4K, click here!  It's free!


Selecting Your Yarn
Different fibers absorb dye differently. We found that:

  1. The all-wool yarns -- Lion Wool and Fisherman's Wool -- took color much more easily than the cotton yarns;
  2. The soft pastel shades of the cotton were very pretty but very subtle -- much like the colors of home-made fresh fruit ice cream;
  3. In some cases, the same dye produced one color in the wool yarn and a quite different color in the cotton yarn. 
  4. There was very little difference between the way the different wool yarns took color, but the Fisherman's wool fluffs up a bit more after handling;
  5. There was very little difference between the way the different cotton yarns took color.

Your Equipment

  1. Cutting board and knife;
  2. Stainless steel or enamel cooking pots;
  3. A stove;
  4. If you are using beets, a grater;
  5. A clock or 1-hour timer;
  6. Tongs or spoons for handling yarn in the dye bath.  If you plan to do several colors, make sure you have a different utensil for each so you don't accidentally contaminate your dyes;
  7. Some place to hang the yarn to dry;
  8. If you are making more than one color, index cards or labels to put with the yarn while it is drying so you can remember what is what.
  9. Recommended, not required: a notebook to document your work.  Use this to take notes about the materials, the process times and the results.  Samples of the yarn are helpful, as are pictures.  Havi ng this information makes it easier to repeat a particular color.

The Dyes
The colors in wool are different from those in cotton, but they are both pretty! Click the colors for instructions on how to make the dye.   
We found turmeric in the spice section of the market. 

Click here for the recipe.

Lion wool dyed with turmeric

Lion Cotton dyed with turmeric
Skins of Yellow Onions
We saved and used the skins of a dozen yellow onions to make this beautiful warm brown.

Click here for the recipe.
Lion wool dyed with Yellow onion skinLion cotton dyed with Yellow onion skin
Grape Juice
We used frozen juice and got this beautiful dusty-rose color on the wool and soft lavender on the cotton.

Click here for the recipe.
Lion wool dyed with grapesLion cotton dyed with grapes
The pink dye is not colorfast, but it is so pretty in the cotton that we can't resist telling you about it!   If you make something out of it and wash the item, you will have to re-dye it after washing. 

Click here for the recipe.
Lion wool dyed with beetsLion cotton dyed with beets

Sunshine Stripe Organic Cotton Purse Set
Sunshine Crocheted Stripes Purse Set 

So now you've have some beautiful naturally-dyed yarn, what next?   Using just one ball of the natural vanilla and one dyed a bright yellow with the turmeric recipe above, we made this fun retro purse set -- a VERY 60's holder for dark glasses, for a cell-phone and for small change or other little necessities.

Click here for the change purse pattern, the cellphone case pattern or the eyeglass case pattern

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant"


1249 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  11:14:54 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for sharing Honeybee, i am going to try that with some of my leftover stash of yarn.

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2797 Posts

Posted - 07/26/2007 :  7:12:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
That is so unusual and interesting!

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