Friday, March 10, 2017

Liquid Easter Egg Dye Kits

A fellow Raveler asked a question in the What a Kool Way to Dye group about using liquid Easter Egg dye to make yarn. She had bought some kits at her local Dollar Store and didn't realize that a couple of them were the liquid dyes. So she posted the question in the group forum, and I accepted the challenge to see how well the liquid dyes would work on yarn.

I have dyed yarn in the past using the Easter Egg dye tablets. In fact, my first ever hand dyed yarn was done using an dye kit I bought at a Dollar Store, but my kit had tablets. I had not seen the liquid dyes, and was curious how they would work.  I tried our local Dollar Store, but the only one they had with liquid in it only had 3 colours and game with a "gold glaze." I did buy it, but have not tried to use it yet.  As a side note, I wont be able to make gold yarn because the glaze does not really contain any colours... it is mostly sparkly stuff, alcohol and wax by the look of it.

Off to WalMart I went in search of a kit that had the liquid dyes, and I found this one:
Roll on dye for Easter Eggs
This was the first time I have paid full price for an egg dyeing kit since the first time I used one, but I really wanted to try it out and see how it would work.  A tip for anyone who wants to try this and has a bit of patience. Places like WalMart and the grocery stores tend to put all of these kits on sale for at least half price the day after Easter. I have even found them at one of my local grocery stores for 50 cents after a couple of weeks. So if you have patience, you can score them pretty cheap. The Dollar Store, on the other hand, seems to just put them away and put them out again this year. And if they are anything like mine, they cover the $2 price tag printed on the box with a $2.50 price tag.

Now these kits contain a lot of stuff you don't need if you are dyeing yarn. I have given away lots of stickers and glitter and glue to friends with kids, and thrown out I don't know how many little metal holders, because I just don't need them.  Here are the contents of this kit - less to throw away, but not so sure that any of it could be used for other things.

Paint rollers, stands (I think) and 5 packages of dye
The only thing I really need out of this are those 5 packages of dye.  On the back of the box it talks about how you can get multiple colours, because you can mix the colours together, but these are not very big packages. They are a little bit bigger than ketchup packages you get with take out, but not much bigger.  And there is not a lot to mix. I think if you wanted to mix colours, you might need multiple packages.

So I gathered up everything I was going to need/use for this experiment

  • 1 roll it! kit
  • 1 skein of bare Opal sock yarn, 96g (due to a miscalculation when using my new yarn swift with counter)
  • 5  mason jars (500ml size)
  • 1 supersized rimmed baking sheet
  • 1 cooling rack that fits inside the rimmed baking sheet
  • Citric Acid powder
  • Medicinal syringes
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Microwave Safe place
  • Towel
  • Baby Shampoo and Moisturizing Conditioner 

First thing I did was soak my yarn. Because I am hand painting the yarn, I added one tablespoon of powdered citric acid to the warm water I soaked the yarn in. This is about equivalent to 1 cup of vinegar, if you want to use that instead. Adding the citric acid to the soaking water helps the dye strike faster.  Let the yarn soak for at least half an hour. I think this one soaked for about an hour and half, just because I got distracted with a few other things, including doing the dishes so I could rinse my yarn when I was done.

And then it was time to mix up the dye stock.  To make this a fair comparison to how I dye with food colouring, I used the same amount of water. Now, for the most part, the amount of water does not impact the strength of the dye. It is just the medium used to get the dye on to the yarn. However, with hand painting, I do find that you can impact the intensity of the colour by having more water in the dye stock. I think this has more to do with the fact that if you have more dye stock and are hand painting, there is a greater possibility that you are going to have dye stock left over, which means you didn't use all the dye, so the colour is lighter.

I started by just putting the dye in the mason jars, so I could see how much dye I had to work with.
The contents of the dye packets, added to the mason jars
It actually looks like close to the amount of food colouring I would be using when I used my standard 6-10 drops of Wilton Colour Right food colouring, although this is a bit more watery.  I then added 1.5 cups of water to each jar, and here was my dye stock.
Yellow and pink look a little light, but let's see how it goes
Some of the Easter Egg dye kits talk about adding vinegar to the individual colours. I personally find you don't need to worry about mixing it into the individual colours as per the instructions, because you will be adding acid to either your soaking water or dye bath, depending on the technique you are using.

I set up my cooling rack inside my rimmed baking sheet, and prepared to apply the colours.  This is a really great tip that I got from someone on Ravelry a while back and I rarely every hand paint yarn without using this method. The baking sheet catches the excess water, and it also prevents the dye from pooling under the skein, which can cause the colours to run together and result in a muddle mess. Plus, you can squeeze out the excess water as you go, which also helps to stop the colours from running together.  Colour travels really fast on wet yarn.
Ready to add the colour! I like to section in a squarish type shape
Now usually when working with colours like this, I tend to use more of the pink, because it is my favourite colour, but for this one, I didn't make as many pink stripes... sometimes I just get distracted when I am hand painting and any plans I have for placing specific colours in specific places just go right out the window.

As I was applying the colours, it seemed like the yellow and the pink were both very pale.  I knew the blue was going to be somewhat pastel, just based on the dye stock, and the pink and yellow did look a lot more pastel than what I am used to working with.  And sure enough, as I was applying it, they were both looking very light. The yellow was particularly light, and I wasn't even sure it was going to look yellow... it only looked about half a shade or so darker than the bare yarn.  I did find, however, that as I added more dye to the individual sections, those colours were getting brighter. So the more I layered them, the more intense they got.
The top of the skein, after I applied the colours
After I used a little more than half of most of the dye stocks, I flipped the skein over. I have done this enough times to know that the back of the skein would be a paler version of the top, and that some of the colours would have blended into each other and run a bit. But you still need to flip it over and add more dye to the bottom. Especially when using superwash yarn that has acid in the soaking water, because it strikes so fast.
After the skein was flipped over
You can see in the picture that there are a lot of spots where the colour barely made it through.  If I had wanted more defined sections, I could have thickened the dye with guar gum, but I really was just winging it with this skein.  As a side note, if you really want to have fun with colours, when you flip it you can apply different colours to the sections to get more blended colours. For example, if I had added yellow to the pink section, I could have gotten some yarn that was light orange. You do have to be careful doing that though, because if you add too dark of a colour, you could completely change the whole section of colour, not just this back piece.

I kept applying the dye to the various sections of yarn until it was all used up.  I normally have dye stock left over when I mix up this much, but I wanted this to be a really good test of the liquid dye, so I made sure to use it all. I did have to empty the extra water out of the baking tray twice during this process.
After the dye was all applied
I wrapped my skein in plastic wrap, put it on a microwave safe plate, and heat set it in 2 minute intervals. I usually zap it for two minutes, let it sit for about 10 seconds and then zap it again. Some people leave it longer in between, but we all know I don't call myself the Impatient Dyer for nothing. I heat set it for a total of 10 minutes (5 of the 2 minute sessions), and then I pulled it out, flipped it on to the cooling rack, and carefully removed the plastic wrap.  I have discovered that if I do this, it cools way faster.
After being heat set, before washing
Once it was cool enough to handle, I filled the sink with warm water and added some baby shampoo and some moisturizing conditioner. I have recently started adding the conditioner to make the yarn a bit softer. Not sure if it is working or not, but it smells and feels nice when rinsing.   Once it was washed and rinses (no dye came out at all in the washing or rinsing cycle), I wrapped it in a towel, wrung out as much water as I could, and then put the yarn on the shoe rack in my dryer.  1.5 hours later and I my yarn was done.

Here is the yarn right out of the dryer, before it was re-skeined
The skein laid out flat

One side of the twisted skein

And the other side of the twisted skein
And then here is where the real magic happens... I re-skeined it, and here are three shots of the final result.

So my answer to the question of "can you use the liquid Easter Egg dyes to dye yarn" is a very enthusiastic yes! I did find that the colours are a little more muted than I normally work with, but I am the queen of saturated colours.  Most people who have seen it so far love it, and have said the colours are very bright and vivid as it is. Even if they are not the neons I am used to.

I am very happy with how it turned out, and think it will make some very pretty socks. I almost think that having the smaller sections of pink make the pink stand out more, so I am looking forward to knitting this us in the near future. Although I have to finish one sock that is in progress, and dye up and knit for another pair of socks that is part of a KAL due by the end of the month. But hopefully I will have Easter socks knit in time for Easter.

So if you are in the stores after Easter and you see these kits on sale, grab a bunch of them! Or, if you just love how this looks and want to try it right now, $2.48 is really not a lot of money, so splurge on one or two kits at full price.   Although when these go on sale for half price, I might pick up two more  of them and double the dye in the dye stock to see how deep I can get the colours ;)


  1. Would love to see how they knit up.. Hope you follow up soon.
    and I hope you are feeling better.
    Love your blog:))

    1. I have a bunch of socks already planned at this point, so it may take a while before I get around to knitting with it, but I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out as well. If you are on Ravelry, keep an eye on my project page. At some point something will show up there knit with this yarn :)

  2. Replies
    1. I am pretty happy with it too...very pastel and very pretty :)

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  4. I just discover your blog and THANK YOU for sharing all your knoledge. I start dyeing my yarn with food coloring recently and what a gold mine I discover in your blog!

    1. I am so happy it is useful to you! When I first started out I was looking everywhere, so I wanted to try to combine what I know in one place, in the hopes that it will help other people :)

  5. How did you get there yarn "re skeined"? Both ways you photographed the yarn looks beautiful but I love them re skeined photos most!!!

    1. I have a homemade niddy noddy that I made out of PVC piping. Once the yarn is dried, I put it on my swift, the I use the niddy noddy to reskein it. When it is dyed and dried, the circumference of the skein changes a bit, so even if I had made the skein in the niddy niddy, when I reskein it, the yarn looks completely different.