How to Dye Yarn with Coffee

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Yarn dying is a hot trend in crafting right now and in particular, dying yarn in more eco-friendly ways other than using chemical dyes. It's fun and easy to dye yarn at home with coffee, water and vinegar. The color coffee gives to the yarn is a light natural brown. It is perfect for just about any project and you're only limited by your imagination

Things You'll Need

  • 1 skein of 100 percent wool yarn (any weight)
  • 1 full pot of coffee (darkest brew possible)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Wool soap or another gentle soap for rinsing
  • Bowl
  • Heavy pot
  • Spatula
  • Coat hanger
  • Take your hank or skein of yarn and unfurl it so it's a big loop. If you're working with yarn that's a pre-wound ball or center pull, unwind it and rewind it around your hand and arm, a niddy noddy, a table or any other method to reskein it. Make sure to tie the loop in several places with string or another yarn to keep it from getting tangled.

  • Take the loop of yarn and put it in a large bowl. Fill the bowl with warm water and 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

  • Meanwhile, pour the coffee into a large heavy pot to cool a bit. You can use day-old coffee if you wish. Pour the rest of the white vinegar into the coffee.

  • After 30 minutes, gently wring some of the water out of the yarn. Don't worry about getting all the water out; just squeeze it gently so that it is not soaking water.

  • Move the yarn to the pot with coffee and vinegar.

  • Turn on the stove to a medium heat. You do not want the mixture to boil, but you do want it hot.

  • Simmer for 30 to 60 minutes, depending how dark you want the yarn to dye. Watch the yarn to make sure it is all covered with the coffee. Move the yarn around with a spatula or spoon occasionally.

  • Once the yarn achieves the desired colors (or slightly darker than desired), remove from the heat and allow it to cool

  • Once it's cool enough to handle, rinse the yarn with water that is the same temperature as the dye water, as to not shock the yarn.

  • Fill the sink and add a small amount of gentle or wool soap. Again, the water should be the same temperature as the yarn.

  • If you are using a rinse free soap, you can skip this step. Otherwise, rinse all the soap from the yarn until the water runs clear. Again, try to match the water temperature to keep the integrity of the yarn.

  • Gently wring the yarn to remove the excess water.

  • Hang the wet yarn over coat hangers in a shower, outside or somewhere else the yarn can drip dry for the next couple of days.

  • Once it's dry, the newly dyed yarn is ready for your next project.

Tips & Warnings

  • The color of the coffee directly relates to its strength. If you want a darker color, pick a stronger coffee.
  • The vinegar helps set in the color.
  • Water temperature is important because drastic changes can make the yarn fuzzy.

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