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Since my last post, Adventures in Dying Yarn with Edible Dyes, I’ve been hard at work on my new Fall color line. I’m so thrilled with the color results I get using a coffee-based dye bath. These are absolutely delicious! So much so, that I’ll be naming them after some of my favorite fall foods. Here’s a sneak peek at the ANGORA I have drying:
Look for these along with the rest of my Fall line in my Etsy shop soon!
But I digress. I realized after my last post, that I have learned so much in my yarn-dying journey from the Internet, that it’s time for me to give a little know-how back. Interested in trying out coffee and tea dying for yourself? Here’s how…
But wait! Make sure to scroll down to the bottom for a FREE Yarn Dye Record Keeper to keep yourself organized. If you ever want to reproduce (or avoid) your dye process, you’ll need to remember exactly what you did. Download the Record Keeper page to take notes and your all set!
NOW here is the tutorial…
How To Dye Yarn with Coffee
- Protein fiber yarn – any animal fiber will work.
- large stock pot
- paper towels or cheesecloth
- 1 cup ground coffee
- measuring pitcher and cup
- large spoon
- food coloring optional
- wool wash
STEP 1: prep your yarn into a hank. Use a piece of scrap yarn to tie a figure 8 in 3-4 places around the hank to prevent tangling. Use a niddy noddy if you have one, or wrap around the end of a table, back of a chair or a willing friends arms.
STEP 2: soak your yarn in water and distilled vinegar. This lowers the pH and makes sure that it will absorb the color. I use 3 quarts of water for a 100g hank. For every quart of water, add 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar. Let yarn soak for 45-60 minutes.
STEP 3: simmer the coffee while your yarn is soaking. Add 1 cup of coffee grounds to 1 quart water and simmer for 60 minutes. Feel free to change this ratio to get your desired results. Note: DO NOT use coffee from the 99-cent store unless you want your house to stink for the next week. Seriously. It may seem like a good idea because it’s cheap, but be a big spender and splunge the 5 bucks on Target’s store brand. You, and every living thing in your household with the ability to smell, will thank me.
*If you want to try tea instead, just pop the tea bags into the water. Start with about a dozen. Skip the messy straining step. Just remove the tea bags!
Line a colander with paper towels or cheesecloth. I don’t recommend coffee filters as shown in the photo. BIG mess. Place on top of a large bowl. Pour dye bath into the colander. I do this in batches, scooping out about 2 cups at a time with my Pyrex measuring pitcher.
STEP 5: prep the dye bath. Here is where some people recommend just adding some ice cubes and water until the bath is cooled to room temp. I don’t go for that kinda willy-nilly recipe. Use ice if you want, but measure it. You’ll want 3-4 quarts of dye bath total, so decide how strong you want the coffee to be. Add 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar.
You can add additional edible coloring here if you want. There are endless choices and sources of color out there. Make sure to take notes on your handy note page!
SLOWLY bring the dye bath to a gentle simmer, but no bubbles. Put a lid on it and walk away for an hour. I mean it. Walk away and stop touching it. No peaking, stirring, or swishing. Take a nap or watch some Doctor Who to distract yourself. If you agitate the yarn, it will felt. I promise. Learn from my erroneous excessive-swishing ways!
STEP 7: after an hour, take the lid off the pot and remove from heat. Put somewhere to cool where you won’t be tempted to poke it. This is why I like dying in the evening. I just go to bed and temptation gone! Or watch some more Doctor Who, because it’s hard to watch just one episode.
STEP 8: once the yarn is cooled to room temp, gently rinse with cool water until the water runs clear. I like to do this in a large bowl. I fill the bowl, place the yarn in, press down gently, dump out the water, repeat. Use a little wool wash when you think all the color is out. Don’t let water from the tap beat down on the yarn. Remember – no agitation or shocking temperatures.
STEP 9: hang to dry. You may see the color lighten a bit as it dries.
The yarn below was dyed as follows, from left to right: all coffee, all black tea, 1/2 black tea and 1/2 coffee, green tea.
STEP 10: knit or crochet into something fabulous and come back here to share!!! I’d love to see your beautiful new colors! This is a fun technique for over-dyeing yarn that is in colors you don’t want as well as for bare yarn. So dig in your stash and get to it!
Don’t forget your free Dye Notes page here!