Fun With Food! Coloring Yarns and Fabrics

Food Dyed YarnIt’s time to take playing with your food to a whole other level. Whether you enjoy spinning your own fibers or buying sustainable yarns and fabrics online, your choice of colors is limited to what the company’s designers prefer and think will sell. Take the look of crafts into your own hands by using fruits, vegetables, and spices to dye your cottons, wools, and other natural fibers.

Using food to color fibers is as nearly as old as agriculture itself. The more “modern” style of dyeing yarn is by using Kool-Aid. As eco-conscious crafters, we all know that is not much of a sustainable option. Head down to your local farmers market or co-op grocery store and you will find an endless supply of creative possibilities that are free of dangerous and questionable chemicals.

Lion Brand offers a great basic tutorial on how to use foodie finds to color yarns and it is a great place to start for new color advocates. Though they focus on dyeing yarns, you can easily apply the same principles to fabrics as well. The particular fiber as well as the length of time you leave the mixture in the boiling water will determine the shade and depth of your color. Craft Magazine published a wonderful article on natural dyeing in their 4th issue that goes into much more detail and includes info about using natural metals as well.

Have you ever colored your own yarn (whether it be with food, Kool-aid, or other substances – henna anyone)? Let us know about your experience!

[Image courtesy of Lion Brand]

Written by Victoria Everman

I think of myself as a creatively versatile eco-powerhouse. Freelance writer, life-long model, on-camera personality, public speaker, official U.S. spokesperson for Twice Shy Clothing - I'm a classic Renaissance woman and mistress-of-all-trades.

Though my days of growing up in the corn fields of central Indiana are behind me, forgetting where I came from is not an option. I lost my father unexpectedly in March of 2006, months before moving from NYC to San Francisco, which helped to amplify my zest for life and thirst to help change the world.

Perpetually looking for fresh ways to share my unquenchable green knowledge, I blog about everything eco on my own website, as well as for All Green Magazine and select others. Additionally, I am the editor/head writer of Crafting a Green World (part of the Green Options blog network) and a writer/web editor for Building Green TV. My diverse articles have been published in variety of reputable magazines, such as: Yoga Journal, Venus, CRAFT, Yogi Times, Recovery Solutions, M+F, and Office Solutions.

In my spare time, you can find me knitting, reading, singing, taking pictures, practicing yoga, taking long walks, and working on my first non-fiction book. Other random facts about me: I'm a Buddhist, latex fan, have four tattoos, and an attempting locavore.



Leave a Reply
  1. I have successfully dyed wool with onion skins, turmeric, coffee, and lichen. The coffee was my favorite color! I have also done an indigo bath, but this is tricky. You have to remove the oxygen from the water. When you pull out the yarn from the indigo vat, it changes from yellow to blue before your eyes, as the oxygen in the air reacts to the dye.

  2. Very nice, Jennifer! I can’t say that I have any personal experience with dyeing yarn, but boy am I interesting in giving in a try. Working with indigo sounds fantastic – blue is one of my all-time favorite colors. 😀


  3. Learning to knit is pretty darn easy, but I’ve heard crochet is even easier. I got a kit for crochet from Chronicle Books but have yet to take the plunge to try it. One of my goals for this year is to complete my first sweater, and I have no idea where I’m going to fit tat into my schedule … but I’m make it work. 🙂


One Ping

  1. Pingback:

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

So Much Plastic, So Little Time!

Yearn-Worthy Yarns: The Wool Peddler