When it comes to home dyeing, the choice of fibre is important – cottons and acrylic yarns don’t hold dye easily so as a beginner it’s often best to start with animal fibres such as wool, alpaca or mohair, which will absorb the dye and produce the richest colours.
Commercial acid dyes are easy and ideal if you are hoping to achieve specific shades as they generally produce reliable results. If you’re dyeing a plant-based yarn, then look for fibre reactive dyes designed for cellulose (plant) fibres, which are best for dyeing cotton, bamboo or linen yarns. If you’re using a natural or botanical dye, then you’ll need to use a “mordant” such as vinegar first – the acidity helps the dye to take well.
It’s also fun to raid your kitchen cupboards for natural dye materials – ingredients such as avocado skins, red cabbage, coffee grounds, onion skins and berries can be used to create beautiful colours, and you can forage or grow plants for dyeing too.
Regia for Hand Dye is a good-value wool blend (£4.30 from www.lovecrafts.com), while King Cole has a pure wool dye-it-yourself DK and 4ply yarn in 250g skeins (£12.99 from www.woolwarehouse.co.uk). For top quality undyed cotton, try Krea Deluxe Raw (£9.50) or John Arbon’s Yarnadelic in Ordinary Joe (undyed, £17.50), both available from www.loopknitting.com.