Deep shades with Natural Dyes? (midnightskyfibers, help!)

I have a whole bunch of white yarn that I want to dye at some point, and I’d love to hear more about natural dyes. I’d like to dye with non-toxic, non-animal based dyes. Deep Reds are my favorite colors, but I think they’re hard to get with natural dyes, right?

Midnightskyfibers, you seem quite experienced with natural dyes, and you have a BEAUTIFUL selection of colors on your site ( here). Are these all vegan, natural dyes?

I know Koolaid dying is popular, but I desperately want to avoid Pastel shades, which I think will be my biggest challenge. I like ochre, but not pale yellow. Rich red, but not pale red (when it comes to wearables). Greens I don’t mind in a paler shade, as long as they’re yellow-ish or muted, and not too teal. Any suggestions?


The biggest problem with natural or vegetarian/vegan friendly dyes is that it is harder to get the really deep deep shades. Ive found that the best dye to do the job (so to speak) is wiltons cake dye. It has a huge variety of colors, though ive only worked with the 12 that comes in their normal pack (each container is something liek 1/2 ounce and lasts a really long time. you can find it in the cake decorating isle of most craft stores). Adding a dash of vinegar will set most dyes (and all food dyes ive ever worked with). Other food syes include easter egg dyes, food coloring, and koolaid.

The most important thing to remeber when dyeing is to go slow- the amount of dye you use and the temperature both play a huge roll in how some dyes will come out, so its important to test the dye before you dye a huge batch. And remember, its easier to start lighter and keep redying than to dye it too dark at first.

Red is probably one of the hardest shades to get in a deep color in food freindly dyes. Even with wiltons it often will have a pink tinge, and since the black has a bit of a prurple tone to it, its hard to get a true scarlet.

My dyes are not toally natural to my knoweldge, since its the synthetic part of it that makes it vegan and more environmental. Most dyes and mordants are very hard on the environment because they use heavy (sometimes metal) bases to bind the dyes to the fiber and use lots and lots of chemicals.

Additionally, many dyes (including natural ones!) are made from parts of animals- especially the color red, which i beleive often comes from the outer shell of a beetle. So that means the the vegan yarn you think you are buying might not be quite so vegan as you think O.o.

theres a bunch of ways to dye yarn that a simple google search will bring up, and has a pretty good overview of how to dye with koolaid that can be applied to any food coloring. My favortie way to dye though is to use a crockpot (i have one circa 1970, its teeny tiny, but does the job) since i can let it sit for a couplr hours, the colors blend nicely, and it wont boil like if you leave your fibers on the stove (which will felt them). Crockpots also allow you a bit of leeway in differnt dye methods- you can get an all over even tone, rainbow dye, randomly mix it all up, etc.


I think it may be worth it to try the Kool Aid. I just did my first experiment with it, and I would say the colors are far from pastel. I actually used a Kroger brand “koolaid” that was on sale for $.11 per pack. I know it will be difficult to tell from the pictures, but I got a pretty good red and I didn’t even use that much coloring. This is a 4.3 oz bulky wool hank and I tried to do about 1/3 of it in the red. I used 2 packets of the mix, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 cup vinegar. I also read somewhere that it isn’t so much the amount of liquid you use as the amount of dye…ie more dye for more/darker color in whatever amount of water. Guess that makes sense :slight_smile: The part at the very end is very red getting a little less intense as it goes up (didn’t let it absorb as much dye). I used orange in the middle and yellow at the top, in about the same amounts.

On a completly different subject, thank you so much for this site!!! :XX:

Midnight as soon as I get some fundage I am SOOOOO shopping at your store. AWESOME! I love your stock. Do you re-stock a lot?

Kemp, That yarn is so pretty! It makes me long for rainbow sherbet! Well done!

i ussually update my site about twice a week, but havent updated in the last week since ive been sick and trying to get some stuff ready and sent off for You can ussually see updates on my blog (and all the stuff on there that hasnt been added to the store will eventually get added in the next couple days, once i can think and write more than one sentence at a time using some semblance of grammar again!)

theres also a really short description of some different dying methods here:

Kemp, that yarn is pretty! I haven’t totally ruled out the KoolAid, but I’m going for a deeper, saturated color than any samples I’ve yet seen of KoolAid.

Thanks for the info midnightskyfibers.

I noticed on the KoolAid sampler from another site (here), that the colors that were done on grey wool, look deep and great. I love the effect, and I’m wishing I had grey wool as a base, and not white!

Has anyone ever tried mixing a dark, neutral grey dye to the bath, for a less vibrant, but darker shade? Or is it just as hard to get a deeper shade with the grey scale as any other color?

Has anyone worked with Earthues? They have a great selection of colors, meant for dying yarns naturally, although not all are vegan. I got a color sampler from a woman near me who uses their dyes (her business is Botanical Shades). She gets some nice deep shades. The true reds aren’t vegan though. She sells the dyes in small 1/2 oz. sizes for $2 - $9 I think, and their cost to dye a pound of fiber to a “medium shade” is $1 - $4 per lb., depending on the color. I wonder how much KoolAid ends up costing? I know it can take several packets of KoolAid, right? So this might even be cheaper, even though it may seem expensive because the dye is so concentrated in little vials. Midnightskyfibers, if you’re interested in wholesale, you can get it from Earthues in larger quantities.

I’ll let you all know what I end up doing with it, although it’ll probably be a while before I dye the wool.


scratch that. i just updated my site.

you could try to dye the yarn darker first before yo do a color. ive never ried that before

DH is a colloidal scientist (small bits of stuff in liquid), I think I understand what he is saying–it is likely that if you try to combine the grey into the dye bath, the particles will combine with each other in suspension and muddy the whole color base. When you were little and you used water color paint, remember how if the colors got mixed, it all turned into a putrid mess? Same theory. It might be better to dye the yarn grey, then dye with the color.

Fascinating! It would be an interesting experiment, to see if the two ways came out very differently. Don’t think I’ll be the one to do it, but I’d be curious!

Thanks for all the advice. :slight_smile: