Dyeing Wool

Beginner’s Series: Wool – Part 5

Wool is one of the easiest fibers to dye. It responds readily to Kool-Aid, commercial dyes, natural (plant- or animal-derived) dyes, and even food coloring.

There are dozens of different ways to color wool, and, as I’ve only tried a few of them, I can’t give you detailed tutorials for everything, but here are some of the ones that have helped me along and given me some really great results. I use Jacquard Acid Dyes for most of my dyeing, with the odd natural dye thrown in. The Jacquards are really nice because the only chemical you need to set the color is vinegar!


If you’re a knitter you have probably heard the term “kettle-dyed” before. It pretty much means that the yarn will be mostly the same color, with a slight shift in intensity in some areas. This is achieved by cooking the yarn (or wool roving) in a pot of dye solution. The actual process will vary depending on what kind of dye you use.

This tutorial is for doing more than one color at a time, and I did it a couple times awhile back. You can read about them in this post and this one if you want to see the results. This method is quite fun.

Rainbow in a Pot

This is my favorite way to dye yarn. You just mix up the dyes and pour them in!

Roving for Supper

And this is the way that I do practically all of my wool rovings. No open flames on the stove top to worry about! Sometimes, if I don’t feel like heating up the oven, I’ll put the wool in a pot and treat it like the yarn in the “Rainbow” method.

The Kool-Aid Way

If you’re looking for something less “toxic” than usual dyes and something that you can do on the stovetop or in the microwave, this is the way to go. I have a friend who has gotten beautiful colors out of this.

I tried it, but as a school project for some young friends of mine. From the moment I found I couldn’t fit a mason jar into their tiny microwave, I knew things were going to be a bit rocky. Thankfully the colors still turned out well. We just set each jar into a big pot of boiling water and let it sit there and steam until I figured the colors were done.

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