Dyeing Cheaper

How to Save on
Food Color, Wool Yarn,
Acid and Heat

Dyeing Cheaper - Food Color

  1. Strawberry, Fruit Punch and Cherry Kool-Aid are all the same color.

  2. Use coupons from craft stores to purchase Wilton Icing colors and Americolor. Sign up for monthly mailers, e-mail specials, and coupons that can be scanned off your phone.

  3. Join Big Box Craft stores clubs.

  4. Check the clearance aisle for discontinued Wilton sets. That's where our excellent Disney Fairies, Transformers and Disney Little Mermaid sets came from!

  5. Buy larger containers of common colors you use often.
    1 fl. oz. bottles of red, yellow, green and black are often found in grocery stores. Quart and gallon bottles are sold in restaurant supply warehouses, ethnic groceries, and survival supply stores.

  6. Know which number food color you are buying, especially the red.

    Red 3 is used to color cherries and pistachios.

    Red 40 is the shade of red licorice.

    And tomato-red is orange-red.

    Blue 1 is used for Kool-Aid and sport drinks.

    Blue 2 is the color of blue jeans.

    Yellow 5 is the color left on your fingers after indulging in cheese pops.

    Yellow 6 is more like orange soda.

  7. Tightly cap your food dye and keep upright.
  8. Ice Blue Raspberry Blue, Berry Blue and Mixed Berry Blue Kool-Aid are all shades of Blue 1. Here's a photo to compare.
  9. Making pastel colors. Expand the number of colors you can make by two - full strength and pastel. 2 pages of Wilton pastel colors and instructions.

Dyeing Cheaper - Yarn

  1. When buying yarn, choose the correct type for the effect you want. Superwash bonds fast and is better for direct dying than immersion. 100% wool or other animal protein yarn produces better solid colors. Blends including plant fibers and man-made content will dye mottled or pastel.

  2. Buy yarn on clearance. Don't pass by the "ugly" colors nobody wants. Especially off-white, pastels, grays and yucky striped or multi-colored hanks. Think overdye, baby.

  3. Go shopping in your stash. All those wool hanks that you bought without a project in mind. Yarn that is a color you used to like. Gifts by well-meaning non-knitters. Give them a second life with food color. And if you have forgotten the fiber content of your yarn, here's a test to find out if it's dyeable..

  4. Frog (unravel) old sweaters and scarves that you don't wear, look a bit sad, or that you can't pass up at the thrift store.

  5. Try mill-ends. Either white or a color to overdye. Factor in your time removing them from the cone and re-skeining. And mill ends may need to be soaked or washed to remove machine oil.

  6. Get together with your dyeing pals and go in on mail-order bulk super-sized hanks.
  7. Use thrifted sweater arms as dye blanks.
  8. Dye your own fleece, cheaper than store-bought and in better colors, too.
  9. You can dye wool/nylon blend yarn with food color. And you can wear a pair of nylons to put on your legs. Find out how.
  10. You can dye silk with food color, too.

Dyeing Cheaper - Acid

  1. Since Wilton, Americolor and McCormick need an acid to bond, buy vinegar in large bottles at warehouse stores rather than at grocery stores.

  2. Citric acid powder can also be used. Dharma Trading company recommends 1 Tbs for each pound dry fiber. If the smell of vinegar gets to you, try citric acid powder.

Dyeing Cheaper - Heat

  1. Microwave vs Stove Top - which should you use?
    For immersion dyeing - which ever you feel more comfortable with. For direct dyeing when setting the food dye with steam, a microwave is easier.

  2. Which is more energy efficient? I love science. But my eyes started to cross reading the results of "cost boil water stove microwave" entered into the search engine.

    To summarize, from least to most energy used - Microwave, Crockpot, Gas Oven, Electric Oven.

  3. A note - do not use boiling water when food dyeing. 180 degrees F is hot enough.

  4. Solar- a fun experiment is to let the sun heat your dyebath. It is the same idea as sun-tea.

    Put yarn and the dyebath in a sealed glass jar or plastic bag. Place in the sun for the day. Asphalt driveways, car hoods and even inside cars are great hot places.

Need help selecting yarn to dye?

Test unknown yarn for wool content.

How to skein and dye mini-hanks.

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