2 - 2008

Re-using Easter egg dye

dyed wool

Last week, days after Easter had passed, Little Cheap and I finally managed to dye some eggs. (They were boiled before Easter – does that count?)

On Thursday morning, the day she was heading to Grandma’s for several days, I busted out the dye at 6:30 a.m. The dyeing just took a couple of minutes, and then we had nine little cups of dye sitting forlorn on the table.

Because of my new-ish spinning yarn hobby, I have a lot of fiber (that’s the artistic word for “wool, silk, cotton, whatever you can make yarn out of”) in my basement. Specifically, I have about 10 pounds of white Corriedale wool, washed and partially processed (meaning it is picked or teased to un-clump it, then carded or brushed into roving, which means long, smooth-ish strips of wool that then can be spun into yarn or felted into felt).

It’s partially processed because I bought it naively last year. It turns out that it is not good quality and so full of VM (vegetable matter, not to be confused with BM, unless of course there is BM in it) that the processor I sent it to gave up. Ah, live and learn. You can see some of the VM here:


Anyway, its poor quality and, er, uselessness (to use a cruel term) makes it perfect for wanton experimentation.

So, egg dyeing complete, I ran down and grabbed the bag of partially processed wool. (All right, I’ll confess, I only got up to dye eggs in the pre-dawn hours because I thought of the wool possibility.)

Here’s my completely amateurish process:

  • I prepared the Paas dye tablets with the vinegar preparation (for “vivid colors”).
  • I soaked the wool to wet it.
  • Little Cheap stuffed each round (just an ounce or so) into the cups of dye. I hovered so that splashing (onto newspapers) was minimal.
  • We let it sit for an hour or so.
  • Mr. Cheap said, “Our spoon is pink!” and rushed into the kitchen to wash it.
  • I looked up dyeing with Easter egg dyes online. Lots of people have done it. None that I found are really specific about how.
  • It seemed that the dye needs to be heated, so I microwaved the cups of dye and wool until they were very hot.
  • I thought all the color should be taken up by the fiber, but it wasn’t, and I needed to get dressed and get to work.
  • I rinsed each color (just took a minute) and sort of wrung it out, then spread out the wool to dry on newspapers.
  • Later, I hung the wool over the shower rod to dry.

The pink in the middle right of the top photo has white because some of the wool was not wet, so the dye didn’t take (Little Cheap was pulling it out of my hand to stuff into the cups). The fiber on the bottom right in the photo above is two-colored because the purple dye “split” into its color components of blue and hot pink.

I decided the small amounts would be a good opportunity for me to use a little drop spindle instead of my spinning wheel to spin the orange into yarn. The process is to spin, pick out grass/seeds/junk, spin again, but it came out fine. I think each little colored roving will produce about 15-20 yards of two-ply yarn (wild guess there). I had suggested to Little Cheap that maybe we can use her loom to weave a little belt for her. An Easter egg belt.

I don’t know if the dye colors will be enduring or if they will fade (known in dyeing as being “fugitive”). But for a first experiment in dyeing, it was utterly harmless, and I’m pleased.

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