Monday, August 19, 2013

Yarn Dyeing, and Those Crazy Gnomes!

My daughter and I had been looking forward to this project for some time.

Dyeing wool with food coloring!

I was pretty intimidated to try it out until I came across this tutorial

It was easy.  And it was one of the most fun things I've done in a long time.

First, if the wool is in a ball, it has to be wound into a skein.

Then we soaked the wool (has to be a protein-fiber) in a 50/50 vinegar water solution.
We covered the work table in Saran Wrap.  We were later very grateful we did this.
Then we put food coloring and a little water in cups.  This was pretty much random guesswork.  How much food coloring, etc.  The kids enjoyed the experimenting.

We put together cups of different colors, and labeled them all.

 Then we dumped the color on, and worked it in with gloved hands.

After that, we put the wet yarn into a dish, loosely covered with saran wrap, and microwaved the whole thing for 5 minutes.

And voila!  That was it.  I never imagined it was so simple.  When the wet yarn came out of the microwave it was VERY HOT, but all the dye was completely taken up in the fiber.  Any remaining water was clear.  The colors were so vivid and bright!  Food Coloring, really??  Crazy.

After drying, it was ready to skein.

I love the color combinations kids come up with.  They are much more free about putting colors together. 

For a project with the new yarn, we decided to knit some more Gnomes.  This was to go with a wooden playhouse we purchased this summer at a street fair.

 The Tree house was handmade by a company called Manzanita Kids. When we saw the tree shape, we knew it would match our branch blocks and our gnomes.

 Here's the Gnome pattern for ye fellow knitters.  It is from a wonderful blog, Plain and Joyful Living.  I'm so glad she shared her pattern!  We've knit up a bunch of these guys now.  
And here are two new more gnomes, both knitted with our newly hand-dyed yarn, one being a bit of an experimental success:  a baby gnome.  I love the tonal color variations in the hand-dyed yarn! Why do we love these gnomes so much? I really can't say. But sometimes I feel this sudden urge to put one in my purse and carry it around with me......


Sharing today with:

Frontier Dream's Keep Calm Craft On
Ginny's Small Things
Natural Suburbia's Creative Friday
Wisdom Begins in Wonder's Fiber Arts Friday
Tami Ami's Finished Object Friday


  1. Wow that's amazing, the yarn turned out so beautifully, who'd have thought, it could be so easy to make rainbow wool. Such lovely shades too.

  2. Popped by from KCCO and I'm so glad I did. A friend has mentioned dyeing yarn this way but I've not tried it yet. Your post is inspiring me to do this sometime soon with the kids!
    Love the gnomes and their home too. That is adorable! I can see why you would want to put one in your purse. It would add a little magic to your day. :D

  3. Your yarn looks very fun. I'll have to file that project away to do here. The gnome home is so cute.

  4. your yarn turned out beautifully! your kids did a great job.
    and the gnomes are sweet. :)

  5. Your yarn is beautiful ~ what a wonderful project! I love anything that the kids can get involved with, too. :) and I'm a little addicted to the gnomes ~ I've purchase a handful but haven't attempted the pattern myself. Yours is super cute!

  6. That looks like if was a lot of fun and the colors turned out so beautifully.
    Darling little gnomes.

  7. Yarn dying looks like so much fun, we really must try it some time. Your gnomes turned out very cute:)

  8. I enjoyed the post and google +'d it. So great to see children involved with the practical arts!

  9. Yes kids are more free with their colours! I tend to go too subtle. You've got some lovely hand-dyed little skeins there and some really cute gnomes!

  10. Your wool has turned out beautiful, and you make the dying look very easy, which I am sure it is not.

  11. The gnomes look great with the treehouse. baby gnome is precious.

  12. Dyeing your own yarn is always a treat. My kids love when they can help me.

    Your gnome home is so much fun.

  13. Love the gnomes - I'm gonna have to make one (or a dozen). I agree the tree house fits perfectly with them!