Did you all have a good Easter last week? I hope so! I must confess I love American Easter. Why ‘American’ you say? well, the typical American Easter has little to do with the more religiously oriented Spanish traditions. In Spain you’ll find no bunnies, no Easter egg hunts or Easter baskets filled with goodies. Sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it?
Since I am a bit too old to go on an egg hunt myself, I wanted to make something for my friend’s toddler. I also wanted it to be a sugar free long lasting gift, so I decided to crochet some eggs and a bunny. They are both FREE PATTERNS: Bunny pattern and Egg pattern
To make it even more Easter-y, I dyed the yarn myself using food coloring. Now that Easter is over you probably have some food coloring laying around yourself. I encourage you to dye some yarn with your little ones using this tutorial. This process is fun and safe. Non-toxic, environmentally friendly and cheap! Here is my resulting yarn:
How to dye yarn with food coloring
– Gel (or liquid) food coloring. I used the gel in 4 colors, red, green, blue and yellow
– White vinegar
– Undyed wool yarn. I used Patons superwash DK. 2 skeins worth. You can easily find it at JoAnn’s or Michaels. (Non protein fibers like cotton or acrylic will not dye with this method)
– A pot or pan to ‘cook’ the yarn and a container to soak it.
– Ball winder or some other method to turn your ball yarn into a cake. *
*Note: you can dye your yarn in whatever shape or form you like. Most tutorials you’ll find out there use a skein that is made into a circle using a niddy noddy. I chose to dye my yarn this way because I wanted a variation in color between the inside and outside of the caked yarn. You may choose to keep the yarn in a ball or to make it into a circle.
1. If you chose to cake your skein, do that first. I used one of my skeins full, to be used for the bunny and the other I split into 5 mini-cakes to be used for the crochet eggs.
2. Soak the yarn in a water + vinegar. You will need 1/4 cup of vinegar for every 4 cups of water. The vinegar is absolutely required. Why? I will save you the exact chemistry but vinegar is an acidic compound. In order for the chemical groups in wool to react with the chemical groups in the dye, the pH of the yarn has to be low. That is, you need slightly acidic yarn. In order to achieve this you’ll want to soak the yarn for at least 30 min.
3. While you wait, mix your dyes. Keep in mind there is a limit as to how much dye will be dissolved in water. I made my dyes in saturating conditions. This means I add as much dye as the water can dissolve. This gives very intense colors. I mixed my dye and water in small bottles I have, but you can do it in any container you’d like.
4. Add the dye! For my speckled yarn, I added teaspoons of dye mixture in a more or less evenly distributed manner. Starting with the darker colors and finishing with the light ones. You may choose to do this in a different order. For the single color yarn, I placed my mini cakes in small mason jars and poured the dye on top. When I was satisfied with the color I poured the dye off and filled the jars with clean water.
5. ‘Cook’ your yarn. In order for the dye to remain chemically attached/linked to the yarn, it is necessary to increase the temperature of both. We do this by placing the yarn directly in a pot with water (that’s what I did with the speckled yarn) or by placing it in jars that are then placed inside the water (top left corner picture). I reacted my yarn for 1 hr at 170F / 90C. Right below boiling. You want the ‘cooking’ process to be gentle so the yarn doesn’t felt.
6. Once the yarn is dyed, rinse it with cold water. I chose to also soak it in water with a tiny bit of Eucalan/hair conditioner. I really do mean a tiny bit. This will fix any slight felting that may have occurred during the dyeing process.
7. Let the yarn dry! I let my small cakes dry wrapped in a towel (bottom left picture) and the large cake spread over the towel. You’ll want to aim for an overnight dry.
8. Make your bunny and eggs or whatever other colorful creation you’d like.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!