This wool is dyed with food dyes, samples I produced while preparing for a workshop on how to dye with food colouring used in baking. In the past I used Dr Oetker dyes which come in a liquid form. But Dr Oetker went green, the dyes are now called “natural”, or at least the red, yellow and black are and they don’t dye fibres anymore. I did try to use them as if they were natural dyes, on pre-mordanted wool, again with little success.
The colours I have used now are Sugarflair food dyes. I dont’ have them in my cupboard but someone has kindly lended me red, navy blue and melon in a paste form as well as heather in a liquid form. All the colors in the picture are the result of this four dyes.
The process is very simple. Because they are food dyes they are safe enough to use in your cooking pots. I diluted very little amount (about 2-3 pin heads per 12 g of fibre) of paste in a jar filled with very hot water. In the meantime I put one tablespoon of vinegar in about 2-3 liters of water and brought it to simmer. Then I emptied the jar with the dye into the pot and entered dry wool. This is something I have learned from my friend – that for basic dyeing there is no need to pre-soak the wool. I didn’t believe until I tried. When the water started to boil I lowered the temperature and waited for about 2 minutes, then switched off the heat. Ideally, it’s the best to leave the wool to cool in the pot: it will not felt if the temperature changes slowly/gradually and during the cooling process, if there is any dye left in the water, it will have bonded with the fibre by the time it is cold.
I have notes which I gave to the participants and I am happy to share them, just let me know via the comment and I will e-mail them to you. I feel dyeing with food dyes is a great start for those who would like to dye their own fibre but are put off by using chemicals in the kitchen, as it is with synthetic dyes or find the process too complicated and tools-demanding, as it can be in case of natural dyeing.