21 May 2011

Coffee and Tea Dyed Yarn

Although many of us enjoy iced coffee or sun tea on a warm summer's day, they are not just for drinking--you can also use coffee and tea to dye yarn! I have been interested in dyeing for some time, and Friday's rain made it a great day to experiment. 

Natural fibres (cotton, hair, linen, silk, wool, etc.) are easily dyed.  For centuries humans used herbs and berries to change the color of fabric, yarn and even paper. While modern commercial dyes have consistant color, they sometimes include strong chemicals.

Dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid is an alternate to using commercial dyes. Using packets of Kool-Aid you can dye a broad range of vibrant colors. I recommend the following tutorials: Leethal's Crockpot Kool-Aid DyeingKnitty.com's Dyed in the Wool or Eunny's Techniques: Self-Striping Yarn).

Coffee and tea can be used to dye fibres as well. Many crafters use them to make fabric, yarn and paper appear aged. I chose four teas (green, black, Earl Grey, and chamomile) and a coffee for my experiment.

I boiled water in a tea kettle and poured it into mason jars. I used two types of yarn: a wool blend and silk ribbon yarn. Both were from thrifted sweaters I unraveled. I looped the yarn around my arm to create loose sections.  I soaked the yarn in lukewarm water with splash of vinegar, pushing the air bubbles out of the yarn so it would be thoroughly saturated. The tea brewed for an hour before I added the yarn.

The yarn soaked in the dye for four hours. I rinsed it in the sink, and then I gently pressed out the excess water with towel. After the yarn dried I roll it into balls.

The variables make the dyeing possibilities endless. I got five different shades of soft brown. A darker hue would require another tea bag and an overnight soak. 

My next project for the yarn to explore knit, crochet and macramé texture.

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