A few months ago I stumbled on some beautiful photos of a shawl that someone had knit and overdyed with tea. I immediately began thinking I could easily try my hand at dyeing some yarn with tea right in my own kitchen. For those who haven’t dyed before, all you need to dye a protein fiber is a dye of some sort, heat and something acidic (usually citric acid or vinegar) to set the dye.
Acid dyes can be dangerous and are definitely not food safe, so I generally tend towards the food safe dyes that I can experiment with in the kitchen. I have dyed and overdyed yarn and fiber in the past with Kool-aid and gotten some fun results, so I figured this couldn’t be too difficult.
First I gathered a collection of teas I wanted to try dyeing with:
I made up a few mini-skeins of yarn and prepared them by soaking them in warm water. Then I dyed on my stovetop using simmering pots of water, some vinegar and of course, my tea.
The first two I tried were the Sweet Harvest Pumpkin and the Sugar Plum Spice. One of the photos I had found was of a gorgeous plum colored stole, and I hoped that Sugar Plum tea would yield a nice plummy color.
After they had soaked on the stove for a while over heat, I removed the tea bags and let the pots cool to room temperature. Then I rinsed in cool water and hung the skeins to dry.
My first results were mixed. I LOVE the color I got from the Pumpkin, but the Sugar Plum was definitely not plummy. I may try again with an even higher concentration of tea bags, but I may also try to find a more purple tea.
The next day I tried again with green tea, plain old Lipton black tea and the Republic of Tea English Rose tea.
Again, I was happy with my results, although I wish I had gotten more red out of the English Rose. I wonder if red is just a hard color to dye? This will take more research.
Regardless, I thought this was a fun project. I do have a knitting pattern in mind for later this year that calls for approximately 1100 yards of a neutral colored yarn and I may dye yarn with tea for that project!
And I’ll close with a pretty little picture of just a bit of what can be done if you’re crafty and love tea: