Breaking Food Colors -
Going Beyond Black

If you enjoy breaking black, you'll love breaking food colors such as purple, violet, aster, delphinium, juniper and others.






Wilton Violet or AmeriColor Violet

becomes magenta and purple with a tiny bit of sky blue.






Wilton Purple (very hard to find) or AmeriColor Regal Purple

Becomes purple royal blue and sky blue.






Wilton Delphinium Blue


becomes Sky Blue, Grape Soda and Magenta.





Wilton Aster Mauve


becomes Burgundy and Shocking Pink. Available only in the Garden Tone set.





Wilton Juniper Green


becomes a green brown and a red brown.

The green brown is more of gingerbread than shown here. The red brown fades into pink.



Instructions on Breaking Food Colors

  1. Heat dyebath to 180 degrees F with just enough vinegar (see below) to set the red, and no more.
  2. Holding a dry knitting blank by the ends, allow the blank to sag partially into the dyebath.
  3. Wait until the red has bonded.
  4. Have a friend add enough vinegar to set the blue.
  5. Raise one hand and lower the other so a new area of the knitting blank is in the dye bath. This will create a pattern like the Purple and the Delphinium with the red on one edge and the blue on the other.
  6. Wait until the blue has bonded.

 Alternate step 5 - Lower both hands so even more of the knitted blank sinks into the dyebath. This will create a pattern Violet and the Aster Mauve with the red in the center and the blue on the edges.

 Second Alternate step 5 - lower just one end of the knitted blank into the dyestock in step 2. As the red bonds, drop more of the blank in to bond with the blue.



How Much Vinegar to Use

Because the acidity of tap water is different, I can't tell you exactly how much vinegar to use.

In my case, 1 teaspoon of vinegar in 8 oz. water sets red and between 1 and 2 tablespoons sets most blues.

If you don't know your ratios and you only have one blank to play with, I'd suggest you add the vinegar 1 teaspoon at a time and wait at least 5 minutes before adding each additional amount.

Yeah, it's slow.

But if you add the vinegar too fast, the red is going to bond to your pot rather than your yarn.



Where to Get Knitted Blanks

Knitted blanks can be purchased online.

Or you can recycle sweater sleeves like I used for the photos. Look for sweaters with some wool, animal fur or nylon. The greater percentage of these fibers, the darker the colors will be.

Sweaters with some cotton or acrylic are fine. However food color will only stain cotton, not dye it permanently. Acrylic won't take color at all.

You can also knit or crochet your own blanks. The looser the finished fabric, the more the color can soak in.

Note: stitch patterns with bumps dye with very nice halos.




Other Food Colors

Wilton Royal Blue will also work for this project, for sure.

The following colors may work but haven't been tested: AmeriColor Navy, Electric Purple and Forest Green.

McCormick Electric Purple.

Wilton Brown.




See my picks for the top 10 food colors.

Watch dyeing videos.

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