Dying Fiber

Most of my projects are small, 3D wool figures and don't require large amounts of consistent color. I have been happy with the results from the techniques described here for these types of projects.

Before you get started

A few words of caution.

Many dyes, even if they are described as "natural" can be harmful.
Label the tools and containers that you use for dyeing "Not for Food" and keep them separate from your cooking things. Many common household chemicals and garden plants that are useful and reasonably safe to use to dye wool can be toxic if inhaled or ingested.

And since wool isn't the kind of fiber that you want to add to your diet try not to use food prep areas if you have a choice.


I don't use any fancy equipment. I found most of it second hand at very low cost.

Since most of the dye techniques that I use require heating liquids and powders to boiling or near boiling I use the appropriate protective equipment like an apron, gloves, dust mask, eye protection and heat and liquid resistant oven mitts.

Crock Pot Crock is non reactive and easy to clean

Maintains a boil or simmer with very little attention

Low amount of steam

Can be used anywhere there's an electric outlet

Limited Size

Requires an electric outlet

Enamelware Pots and Pans Nonreactive

Available in many sizes
including some very large

Available with wire inserts to hold glass canning jars

Requires a heat source

Can boil over or boil dry

Lots of steam

Microwave Available in most homes and apartments

Works with plastic containers

Limited Size

The best results

Food Color Dyeing
I often use food colors as a simple "acid dye" for animal fibers like wool, alpaca, angora, mohair and silk.

1/4 cup white vinegar (thats the acid) for each quart of water.
Liquid food colors (not sugared or gel)
Heat Source that will heat 190-200deg F

Cooktop, microwave, hot pot or slow cooker}
Fiber soaked for

Cooktop Method

Put the wool, vinegar water and food color in quart size ziplock bags "simmer" them in hot water in a crockpot slow cooker. I don't snap the bags closed.

But you can also "simmer" the bags in a pot on the stove. Or you can use glass canning jars and a canning steamer with a wire rack.