Once you have finished dying your Easter Eggs, why not use up any dyes left over to dye up some odds and ends of wool. This very easy and, being a food dye, is safe to do in a normal household kitchen and requires no specialist equipment.
Any animal fiber (protein fiber) can be used – wool, alpaca, silk etc. Cottons and other yarns will not take the dye well. A mix of fibre types (for instance wool and acrylic) will take dye at different rates so if in doubt try a little first – experiment with lots of odds and ends and have fun!
Wool can be ‘over dyed’ – so if you have a yukky sludge colored yarn which you will never use – have a go at over dying it with another color and see what comes out. If you were never going to use the yarn then you won’t have lost anything if it comes out worse – and if you like the effect you will have some new yarn to play with!
Egg dye will permanently dye wool – however it is egg dye and not textile dye so you will not get the reliability and consistency of results that you would if using a specialist dye. However you should get a good robust result, which is reasonably light and color fast.
In order for the dye to take, the wool needs to be heated in slightly acidic water. This can be achieved by simply adding vinegar (white vinegar is best – less smelly!) that will alter the ph balance to being acid.
Before starting, the wool needs to be wound into skiens and loosely tied, this can easily be done by winding it around the wide spaced arms of a willing volunteer – or wind it between elbow and hand. A skien of around 1 – 1 1/2 feet is easiest to handle. It is important that the dye water gets to all areas of the wool which is why it is best to wind it into skeins rather than dye the wool wound in a ball.
One tablet of Egg Dye will color approximately one ounce of wool – more wool used with a single tablet will give a lighter shade. Any amount of water can be used – the important ratio is egg dye to wool, not water to wool.
It is very easy to dye your wool with egg dye. Simply dissolve the dye in water and bring to the boil. Add half a cup of vinegar. Whilst this is heating, give your yarn a really good soak – make sure there are no dry bits – these will not take the dye and give you a patchy look. When the water is heated and the wool soaked, put the wool into the egg dye and make sure it is all covered and then turn the heat off. After an hour or so when the water is cool – you will notice that the wool has taken all the color and the dye water is clear.
Experiment with different techniques – try ‘tie dying’ you wool by tightly tying some ties around the outside of the skein which will give you white ‘stripes’; or hang one side of the skein into the egg dye bath and dye one part of the wool one color and then repeat using a different color for the other side.
If you enjoy the process and like the end effect why not consider buying undyed yarns to hand dye at home and replicate many of the wonderful handpainted yarns which are currently popular.