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How to Dye Wool Yarn With Turmeric

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

A fun and easy way to experiment with dyeing yarn is by creating your own dyes using natural ingredients. One of the benefits of dyeing your own yarn is that you are in complete control over the outcome. Varying factors such as the ingredients you use or how long you choose to process your yarn in the dye bath will determine what kind of unique color you will get! Turmeric is a spice that is commonly used to make a beautiful, earthy, brownish-yellow dye.

What you’ll need:

Turmeric Mixture:

-1 oz ground turmeric

-3 quarts of water

Yarn Dyeing:

-Turmeric mixture

-Wool yarn

-Stainless steel pot


To make your turmeric mixture which you’ll be using to dye your yarn, combine 1 oz of ground turmeric with 3 quarts of water in a stainless steel or enamel pot. With this amount of turmeric and water, you should be able to produce two balls of dyed wool. Your choice of pot when working with dyes is important, as some ingredients can corrode pots that are not stainless steel or enamel coated.

Bring your turmeric mixture to a boil and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. In this time, the turmeric powder should dissolve. As soon as the mixture is done cooking, you can begin the yarn dyeing process.

When it comes to dyeing wool yarn, it is important to bundle your yarn into a hank. Wool yarn can tangle as well as felt together easily if it is allowed too much movement during the dyeing process. Your yarn should be looped around in such a way that it is secure enough to stay in place, while at the same time, loose enough to allow the dye to freely circulate throughout the wet yarn.

To bundle your yarn into a hank, wind the yarn into a large loop. One method of doing this is by wrapping the yarn around the back of a chair. Then, in short sections, loosely tie around the yarn in two places. You can use short pieces of string as your ties. Depending on how large your dye pot is, you may need to double your loop. You can do this by twisting your loop into a smaller circle and tying it again using two more short pieces of yarn.

Bring the turmeric mixture to a boil once again. Before placing your yarn into the dye pot, dip it in some water to dampen it and be sure to wring it out well.

Fully immerse your yarn in the dye bath and allow it to cook for 30 minutes. Your dye bath may evaporate to a point where you yarn is no longer fully submerged. In this case, add some water to the mixture.

When you are ready to preview your color, use tongs to remove the yarn from the dye bath and rinse your yarn with water. If you are unsatisfied with the color of the yarn, for example, if the shade is too light, place it back into the dye bath. Allow it to continue to simmer until you are happy with the color.

Rinse your dyed yarn with cool water thoroughly until the water runs clear through the yarn. This is to ensure that excess dye is not left behind in the yarn. When you are done rinsing, wring out your yarn.

If you tied a second set of string around your yarn, remove them so there are only two tied sections of yarn remaining.

If your hank of yarn did not get tangled or messy during the dyeing process, it is perfectly fine to leave it the way it is. If you would like, you can use the chair or another object that you used previously to wind your yarn and rewind it into a ball and then rewind it back into its loop. This could be beneficial if some of the strands of yarn felted themselves together. It is much easier to unfelt these stands when your yarn is still damp.

Finally, hang your yarn up to drip dry.

**Please keep in mind that items dyed with turmeric are not colorfast or lightfast so always wash by hand and keep out of the sun or bright light.

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