Dyeing Yarn with Wilton’s Icing Colors – Microwave in a Pyrex Bowl Method

Dyeing Yarn with Wilton Icing Colors

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Dyeing yarn gives you the freedom to create your own amazing colorways! Using Wilton Icing Colors is a fun and inexpensive way to start. They are non toxic and intended for dyeing cake icing. This method can be done in your everyday cookware. I do not recommend that you use vintage Pyrex for dyeing yarn. because it is way too precious. Use a contemporary clear glass Pyrex, so you do not risk possibly staining your vintage Pyrex.

  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Glass Pyrex Bowl
  • Yarn – I used Paton’s Classic Wool, but any 100% wool or Alpaca can be used. I have had success with blends with 80% wool. You can also use a super wash wool and not have any worries about felting.
  • Wilton Icing Colors – I used violet and royal
  • Food Coloring – I used McCormicks
  • 2 Pyrex measuring cups
  • Gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic wrap
  • Aluminum foil

Step 1. Prepare your yarn. In order for us to dye the yarn we need to wind your yarn into a hank, or a large ring of yarn. You can do this with a niddy noddy if you have one. If you don’t have one then you can use a chair. Tie your yarn around the back of the chair, and wind it around until the whole skein of yarn is wrapped around the chair. Then take some crochet cotton and tie your yarn if a few places to keep it from tangling.

Step 2. Prepare your work space to protect your counter tops. I like to use aluminum foil to cover my work area, because it is reusable, Keep paper towels close by for a quick clean up. Gather your supplies. Wear gloves to protect your hands from staining.

Step 3. Soak your yarn in a water and vinegar solution. For this batch I used a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 6 parts water. Cover with plastic wrap and let soak for at least 30 minutes.

Dying Yarn
Gently Press the Yarn to Remove Air Bubbles

Step 4. Mix the dye. Fill Pyrex measuring cup with 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Dip a fork inside of the icing color of your choice. Stir into the measuring cup. You can add some food coloring if the mood strikes you. I added a about 6 drops of blue to the violet, and 10 drops of blue to the royal. I decided to mix two dye colors for this batch. You can check the saturation by dipping a scrap piece of yarn or a paper towel into the dye batch. You can mix as many dyes as you like, but I think more than three per skein would get too muddy.

Wilton Icing Colors

Step 5. Microwave your dye for 2 minutes. Stir again to break up any chunks of icing color that still need to dissolve.

Step 6. Microwave the vinegar/water solution with your yarn in it for 2 minutes. Take your yarn out of the vinegar/water solution, and let the water drain off of it. Gently squeeze the excess liquid out. Pour out the vinegar water solution, you can save the vinegar/water solution for another dye batch if you like. Place your yarn back into the Pyrex dish.

Pouring the Dye-Violet Mixture
Pouring the Dye-Royal Blue Mixture
Pressing the Yarn to Help Soak up the Dye
Wilton Icing Dyes-Ready to Cover and Microwave

Step 7. Now for the fun part! Pour the dye onto your yarn a little bit at a time.For this batch I poured half of the blue purple dye batch on the left, and half of the blue dye on the right. It doesn’t look like there is much of a difference at this point, but if you look closely at the purple side, you can see little bits of redish purple. The colors in the dye will absorb at different rates, so can get some really cool results. Press down gently to help the yarn absorb the dye.Step 8. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 2 minutes. Then let the yarn rest for 2 minutes in the microwave. Continue microwaving and letting the yarn rest in 2 minute intervals until the water is clear. When the water is clear, the dye has set. This method took me four cycles to set.

Wilton Icing Dyes
Finished Result
Wilton Icing Dyes
Finished Result

Step 9. Rinse wool in the hottest water out of your faucet. Add a few tiny drops of liquid dish detergent to help neutralize the acid.. Be careful not to agitate your yarn too much, or it could felt. Do not let the water change temperature. Extreme temperature changes can cause felting.Step 10. Hang yarn to dry.

I recommend checking out www.dyeyouryarn.com. This site has formulas for just about any color you can think of, and it is a fabulous resource!

How to Dye Yarn
Dyeing Yarn with Wilton’s Icing Colors-Pyrex Bowl Method




How to Wind Yarn into a Hank for Dyeing Yarn-Chair Method

How to Tie Yarn into a Hank for Dyeing

Dyeing yarn is so much fun!  Before you can dye your yarn, you will need to wind it into a hank to keep it from getting tangled. You can create a hank with a tool called a niddy noddy, or you can use a chair.  Winding your yarn around a chair will make your yarn easy to manage.


  • Yarn
  • Chair
  • Box

1.  Take your yarn and place in a box to keep your yarn from rolling around. You can sit the box on the chair or on the floor.

2.  Take one end of the yarn and tie it around the chair.

How to Tie Yarn into a Hank for Dyeing

3.  Wrap yarn around the chair until you have the desired amount of yarn wound around the chair

4.  Tie the end to keep it from unraveling.

5.  Use crochet cotton yarn to tie your yarn in a few places.  I like to weave the crochet cotton in a figure eight method to keep the yarn from sliding.

How to Tie Dye Yarn into a Hank for Dyeing

How to Tie Yarn into a Hank for Dyeing

How to Tie Yarn into a Hank for Dyeing

How to Tie Yarn into a Hank or Dyeing
The Hank is Ready to Dye!

Now you are ready to dye your yarn!  You can get started using my tutorial on dyeing yarn with Wilton Icing Colors found here.


Preview with a Swatch – Knitting and the Perfect Gauge

Checking for Gauge
Gauge Swatches

It always surprises me when people tell me they don’t like to swatch, because I love to swatch! Knitting a gauge swatch is like watching a movie trailer for a movie you just can’t wait to see. It is an opportunity for you to make sure your chosen yarn will work for your project. It’s like holding auditions for yarn and needle size.

One of the main issues that creating a swatch tackles is gauge. Finding the right gauge is so important. There is nothing worse than investing hours into large project like a sweater to then discover that it will not fit. A swatch at the beginning could save you hours of work. It is a lot like the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. If the gauge is too loose your project will be too big, and if it is too tight it will be too small. Taking the time to do a gauge swatch at the beginning could save a lot of heartache later on. I was heading to North Carolina on vacation. I was working on what was going to be my first sweater… it was not. I was on the way back home when I realized that it was huge, and it was not going to fit me. I unraveled the whole thing before we got home.

Your pattern will give you a needle size-size 13. This is like the pirate’s code in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, it’s more of a guide line. That needle might not give you the gauge you want. For me the suggested needle never gets me the size I want. I am a loose knitter, so I usually end up using the next size down. Your pattern will say something like:

10 stitches equals 4 inches

Cast on 10 stitches and knit a few rows. If you have a 4 inch wide swatch, congratulations you are done! If not then swatch again! If the swatch is too big, use a smaller needle. If the swatch is too small use a bigger needle. You can leave the swatch on the needles, and unravel it after measuring to save yarn.

Gauge Swatch - Too Big
Gauge Swatch – Too Big

Size 13

This one is too big!  Use smaller needles!

Gauge Swatch
Gauge Swatch – Too Small

 Size 10 1/2

This one is too small!  Use larger needles!

Checking for Gauge
Gauge Swatch – Just Right!

Size 11

This one is just right!  

A swatch will also tell you how the fabric will feel and drape. This gives you the opportunity to make sure that you have the right yarn for your project. Even if you have the gauge the fabric could be so tight that it is difficult to knit, and has no drape. It would probably not be something you would want to knit a shawl in. Then you have the other end of the spectrum, where you have the gauge, but the stitches are too loose and open. This would probably not be something you would want to knit mittens in.

Taking the time to knit a swatch (or a few swatches) can make your knitting project more enjoyable.  It will help you find the perfect combination of yarn, and needles for your next project.

Happy Swatching!