I’m going to veer away a little bit from my usual crochet book reviews this week to talk briefly about three books that I recently picked up on the related topic of yarn dyeing. I have been thinking about trying yarn dyeing for awhile now and it’s something I want to move forward with a bit in 2012. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not it’s something that I enjoy because I felt really drawn to the idea and then I read these books and now I’m wondering if yarn dyeing is really for me. It may not be but I do want to try it to find out and I think that these three books combined together make a terrific resource for the beginning and curious dyer.

1. Hand Dyeing Yarn And Fleece by Gail Callahan.

This book is all about the basics of beginning to dye yarn by hand. Although I haven’t tried it yet, the book makes me feel a lot more comfortable about the process. It simplifies the steps, breaking them down into digestible pieces. It doesn’t talk a lot about measuring stuff or making sure you have the exact right materials. Instead, it talks about the core things that you need to do if you want to start hand dyeing yarn. It provides several different options for different steps (for example, using different heat sources like the stove top, the microwave or a slow cooker). This book is about dyeing natural protein yarns (like wool) using food coloring and commercial dyes.

2. Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess.

One of the reasons that I’ve been hesitating to begin dyeing yarn is because I don’t really want to have to worry about the use of chemicals in my kitchen. I have a small apartment and would be dyeing in the same place where I cook and although I know that other people do this without incident, I know that I tend to cut corners here and there with new hobbies and I’d rather not endanger myself in that way. So it’s become increasingly appealing to me to think about using natural dyes and that’s what this book is all about. It is an in-depth book about dyeing yarn with plants and spices and it gets into how to find those plants in your area as well as how to grow some of them. It’s a detailed counterpoint to the first book and together I feel like they’ve given me a lot of interesting information to chew on.

3. Dyeing to Knit by Elaine Eskesen.

This is actually a knitting pattern book so you would think at first glance that it may not interest me since I crochet but don’t knit. However, don’t underestimate the power of this book. It’s about how to dye yarn to use and then it’s about how to get the most out of hand-dyed yarn in your knitting. Although not all of the details apply to crochet work, I think it provides some really great information that helps to inform you about the color process and gives you a lot to think about. This food for thought seems like it would help add an extra level to the yarn dyeing experience and rounds out my list of three must-have resources for wanna-be yarn dyers. I’ll let you know if I continue to adore these books as I move forward with learning to dye.

Is yarn dyeing something that interests you?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. Marie/Underground Crafter Reply

    Thanks for sharing these reviews. I’ve only done Kool Aid dyeing (which I love) but have wanted to try other types of dyeing. The small kitchen thing does make it less desirable though!

    • Kathryn Reply

      @Marie … Some people do really great stuff with KoolAid dye, nothing wrong with that! I do want to try various methods.

  2. ChaoticCate Reply

    I’ve recently started dyeing my own yarn, mainly because I’m tired of trying to find the colour that I want in the commercial yarns. I use the acid dyes and dye in my kitchen and find that so long as you clean up any spills as soon as you make them and I do!! it is safe. The main thing to do is keep your dye equipment (eg pots, stirrers containers etc) separate from your kitchen equipment, use newpapers, paper towel or similar to protect your bench tops from being coloured and wipe up spills. If you follow those simple steps you are safe. Don’t forget that sometimes the mordants used for natural dyes can be pretty nasty too. I use household vinegar as the acid and heat from the stove top to set the commercial dyes I use.

  3. Pingback: Then and Now in Crochet (11/25 – 12/1) — Crochet Concupiscence

Write A Comment