If you have ever tried to dye yarn red you may know that it is not as easy as it looks. It is pretty easy to get a pink yarn, but getting a luscious deep red is not as easy. For my yarn club I did a lot of red dyeing over the 2021 holiday season and I wanted to share my top tips for getting the red yarn of your dreams. Please note for this red yarn I was dyeing wool/alpaca blend yarn using Dharma's Oxblood Red acid dye. I soaked the yarns in water with a drop of Dawn dish soap for at least 30 minutes prior to dyeing.
1. Saturate. Use a lot of dye. If you are generally conservative with your dyes scrap that and go heavy with the red. This is definitely where you can read the manufacturers labels and go there to get that full color. You can always pull back in the future.
2. Use a good amount of mordant. Whether you use citric acid or vinegar use a bit more than usual to help the yarn take up as much dye as it can.
3. Heat. And cooling for that matter! Definitely bring your yarn slowly up to a good high temperature while it is sitting in the dye. I like to get to about 180 degrees. The best uptake happens at that high temperature. Equally important with red is letting it come back to room temperature naturally. I leave the lid on my red dye pots to allow for a slow cool down that generally pulls up any last remaining color in the pot.
It is all about trial and error with dyes and yarn, but hopefully these tips can help you skip a couple of the errors and get straight to the color you want! Have fun!
I am Kim Biegler, the owner and operator of Ewethful Fiber Farm & Mill. I create hand spinning fibers from locally sourced wool and teach others online how to hand spin their own yarn.