[dyeing] Food coloring Lincoln, Wensleydale, Finn

Here are 4oz bundles of various fiber from Crown Mountain Farms. I wanted to try lots of sheep breeds that I haven't spun before, to see and feel the differences. I placed these in my own touchy-feely order from left (softest) to right (roughest).

Various Roving
From left to right: Finn, Wensleydale, Shetland, Jacob, Gotland, Lincoln

A while ago I ordered a food coloring kit to try dyeing fibers with. The Kool-Aid I tried resulted in very light colors. I thought that food dyes would be more vibrant and still be non-toxic.

In a moment of clarity, I realized I can use the water bottles that have the open/close spout tops. My set up is to tape a black garbage bag to the table, tape down a strip of plastic wrap, soak the fiber in water, press out as much water as possible in a towel and then arrange the fiber on the plastic wrap. I mixed dye solutions of 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup white vinegar and 20 drops of dye. When I exhaust the dye, I rinse and reuse to bottles or pitch it into the recycling bin.*

For the first go around, I chose the Lincoln (because it felt the worst) and three greens:

Ready to dye.

Lincoln Green

I wrap and roll the color-saturated fiber up in the plastic wrap and microwave it for 2 minutes in a pyrex dish. Rest two minutes. Nuke 2 more minutes. Rest 2. Then unwrap the (burning hot omg scalding nearly on fire) fiber into water in the sink that the fiber was originally soaking in. And NONE of the dye bled out.

The finished fiber, all braided up and pretty:

Lincon Green

That was Saturday. Sunday morning I tried the Wensleydale in shades of blue:

Wensleydale blue

I purposefully tried leaving white areas but by the time I rolled the fiber up, excess dye had saturated all but the smallest areas of the fiber. Wah-lah:

Wensleydale Blue

It was so easy. I have all the different dyes, all kinds of water bottles, a huge jug of vinegar. I immediately mixed up some red, orange and brown and dyed the Finn. It was so fast, I didn't take any before pictures. But here's the after:

Finn Orange
This was gifted as a late birthday present to Lois at White River Yarns

So there. Dyeing fiber with food coloring is easy, safe (as far as I can tell but I had a little bluesplosion inside the microwave) and the colors are very strong. I loves it.

*Okay, I know there are some conspiracy theories that say recycling doesn't do anything and why am I even buying bottles of water anyway. Why don't I just drink the tap water and bottled water is a scam and bad for your teeth... Whatever. Look, I buy local-ish water (not the stuff that has to be flown here from Fiji) and I'm recycling. That's all.


gayle said...

Very pretty colors! I love the greens, but then I'm a green person...
I buy the occasional bottled water, but I refill the bottles from my faucet. Since I have genuine Vermont spring water on tap... it's probably better water than what I bought in the first place! 8)

countryelvis4 said...

Beautiful dye job, I'm impressed. I love, love, love the colors. You make it look so easy even I could do it. But will have to get spinning the fiber I have on hand first LOL.

Shelby said...


I love, love, love them. The green one is the pefect shade of grassy clover green and it makes me so happy! Good job!