Overdye Orange Yarn

Orange is "the" big color for 2012, and you know what that means. A zillion balls of orange yarn will soon be extra cheap in the clearance bins.

Here's how to transform orange into a color you'll actually love to knit with.

Below are samples using Wilton Icing gel and McCormick food color drops.

If you are a Kool-person (one who dyes with Kool-Aid), the first photo on the Kool-Aid Formulas page, labeled "Orange," will show you orange Kool-aid mixed with many other flavors.

(Note: The large orange skein in the photo background is the original yarn color.)

Orange yarn overdyed with McCormick food color.

A. McCormick Yellow on orange equals amber.

B. McCormick Red on orange equals scarlet.

C. McCormick Green on orange equals forest green.

D. McCormick Blue on orange equals hunter green.

E. McCormick Black on orange equals seal brown.

F. McCormick Neon Pink on orange equals the same color as McCormick Red.

G. McCormick Neon Purple on orange equals plum.

H. McCormick Neon Blue on orange equals teal.

I. McCormick Neon Green on orange equals brass.

Orange yarn overdyed with Wilton food color.

J. Wilton Aster on orange equals sienna.

K. Wilton Burgundy on orange equals rosewood.

L. Wilton Blue on orange equals navy.

M. Wilton Copper on orange equals safety orange.

N. Wilton Delphinium on orange equals coffee.

O. Wilton Juniper on orange equals sepia.

P. Wilton Kelly on orange equals office green.

Q. Wilton No Taste Red on orange equals safety orange.

Orange yarn overdyed with Wilton food color.

R. Wilton Pink on orange equals tawny.

S. Wilton Pink Rose on orange equals carmine.

T. Wilton Purple on orange equals burgundy.

U. Wilton Red on orange equals scarlet.

V. Wilton Royal on orange equals dark olive.

W. Wilton Sky on orange equals sea green.

X. Wilton Teal on orange equals dark spring green.

Y. Wilton Violet on orange equals purplish brown.

How were the colors made?

The yarn is 1 yard of bulky orange lopi.

One drop of McCormick food color was used for each sample in the first photo.

A trace of Wilton gel (the amount that coats a half an inch of a toothpick) was used in the other two photos.

My goal was to use only enough food color to slightly change the color. There were some surprising results. Although yellow is a weak color, it did shift the orange lighter.

The green food dye doesn't always make brown.

And Wilton blue makes a nice navy.

Orange yarn overdyed with Wilton food color.

What happens if you add more food color?

In these samples 1/8 teaspoon was used per .4 ounces of orange yarn.

The skeins are a bit more vivid. But you will notice that orange with green, teal and sky blue is still green.


Lopi, especially bulky lopi is very finicky. The food dye will bond with the outer surface of the yarn and the core can remain undyed. This can be a nice effect or highly yucky, depending on your taste.

To encourage the dye to bond as deep as possible, allow your yarn to soak in the dyebath without any vinegar or heat as long as possible. Soaking a few days would be a good idea.

Dark colors and blues may need to be reheated and have more vinegar added.

McCormick and Wilton both need vinegar to bond.

So be on the lookout for orange yarn, orange sweaters or scarves. Folks may give you the squint eye to see your cart filled with orange - but you are smarter than they are. You can see potential!

Go to main Overdye page.

Check out our food color dyeing videos.

See other colors of yarn overdyed.

Go from Orange Yarn to Dye Your Yarn home page.

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