How to Dye Yarn Naturally
Add natural color to your knitting yarn: You can use kitchen scraps—like red cabbage, avocados, and beets—to create a brilliant range of dye colors.
This idea comes from our friend Ashley Poskin. Dyeing requires simple chemistry, experimentation, and exploration. Natural fibers—such as cotton, linen, silk, and wool—take dye much better than synthetics do. Many different food items that can be used when dyeing yarn; some give off the color you expect while others surprise you entirely. Black beans soaked overnight and drained result in beautiful grays and blues, while sage boils into a pretty yellow. For this demonstration, we used an avocado pit with peel which are green, but the dye result is the most beautiful blush pink. The peels and pit can be stored in the freezer until needed (just be sure to wipe them clean before freezing). You can also dry them out and store them in a container or paper bag.
The more scraps you use in the dye bath, the darker your dye bath and color as a result. Muddle fruits to better extract color while boiling, and be sure to chop items like cabbage and beets into smaller pieces beforehand. As always, be sure to strain any debris off the dye before submerging the yarn. Take color experimentation even further by adding an acid or base to the final dye. The best part of dyeing yarn naturally is that you're using food waste to create something beautiful and eco-friendly without chemicals. Once dyed, you can wind the yarn by hand into a ball, hank, or skein—ready to be used in your next knitting project. Pictured above from top to bottom: undyed yarn, avocado (in one and two dips into dye bath), beets, and red cabbage.