Dye Your Fleece

Little bags of crafting wool fleece can get pretty expensive, especially when you need every color.

I'll be the last person to tell you that you don't need hundreds of colors.

Here's how to make your own custom colors, at home, with food colors.

What kind of fleece do I need?

For needle felting:

  • wool from a sheep raised for meat
  • low quality wool (not suitable for spinning)
  • prepackaged needle felting wool (also called roving).

For wet felting:

  • wool felting batting
  • wool/silk felting blends
  • accent scraps made of wool, silk and nylon.

A large amount of woolly goodness can be stuffed into a recycled jar.

No moth worries, and decorative at the same time.

Another reason a person can't have too many jars.

Or fiber.

Which Food Colors are Easiest to Use?

For a first time dyer I'd suggest:

Here's why:

McCormick yellow is much stronger than Kool-Aid, and so cheaper.

Red Kool-Aid is red40, now worry about the red breaking.

McCormick black is easier to use than Wilton.

The blues listed don't contain red.

Will Color Formulas for Yarn Work?

Yes, except....

Loose wool fiber will be the same color as yarn but slightly lighter (or more pastel).

In the photo below, the same amount of Easter Egg dye was used, but the green and blue are a bit more luminous.

The eye sees yarn as a flat surface. Unspun wool is like a fluffy cloud.

1 packet of Kool-Aid on 1 ounce of white fleece will make a pastel color. You will need several packets for a medium color.

If you want to dye very dark jewel tones, it's easier and cheaper to start with gray wool.

Mixing Your Own Colors

Wet fleece is a different color than dry.

Sometimes wet wool is more gray, or yellow. Which can really throw off the end result.

If you are used to dyeing uniformly white yarn, and like to control the exact color of the finished product this can be very frustrating.

Dyeing small samples to get the correct color would be a good idea.

The colors look murky while being dyed, but will brighten as they dry.

Mottling, Marbling and Streaks, oh my!

Hanahhats has dyed three-quarters of a sheep.

(Small bits at a time, but it's still a lot of wool).

And the wool has never ended up a solid color. No matter how much soaking time, when the vinegar is added, which food color is used, or what speed the dyebath is heated.

Frankly, I think her wool looks more alive and vibrant than store bought colored roving.

There is a variation in the hue and also the depth of color that's Kool.

However, if you'd prefer a more uniform color you can card the wool when it's dry to blend the variation out.

Dyeing Fleece - the Easy Way

  1. Stuff scoured wool in a jar.
  2. Mix up your dye, adding vinegar if needed.
  3. Pour the dye over the wool and allow to soak.
  4. Microwave 2 minutes on, 5 minutes off until the water in the center of the jar is 180 degrees.
  5. Cap the jar and allow to cool.

Lots of blue formulas (blue, blue and more blue).

Need some green (formulas)?

Lovely video instructions, just for you.

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