Dyeing Wool with Rit Dyes

When the Michaels store opened in Kalispell, they had a grand opening give away. You spun a wheel and chose a prize. They didn’t have very many prizes left when I got there but they had liquid Rit dye. I decided I would choose that for my prize, one for me and one for my husband!

Rit Liquid Dye

Then it sat at home for nearly 6 months. I needed to dye some wool and Ann’s recent post reminded me that I needed some brighter colors. So I thought I would experiment with the Rit Dye and see how it worked on wool.

Roving Into the Pot

I got out my dye pot, filled it up to 2/3 with water, added the full bottle of fuchsia colored Rit dye and a couple of glugs of vinegar. I heated the dye up to steaming and then added some mixed 56’s wool roving.

Roving Ready to Steam

Here it is ready to steam. I put the lid on and had the stove on low heat. I left it that way for 30 minutes.

Red Nearly Exhausted

The dye exhausted pretty well. Better than I expected actually. And the color was a nice red.

Red Before Rinsing

Here’s the wool before I rinsed it.

Blue to Blue Green

Then I did the same with the turquoise Rit dye. You can see the original color on the paper towel. I already had a bunch of blues so I decided to go for a blue-green. So I added a little bit of yellow acid dye. Not much but I didn’t measure.

Dark Green

And here is the pot ready to heat.

Green Didn't Exhaust

This one did not exhaust as well.

Green Before Rinsing

And this is green, not blue-green. I guess I added a bit too much yellow. But I think part of it was the wool took up the yellow dye better than the blue.

Blue Green Merino Fleece

I then had a small amount of merino fleece left which I threw in the pot. Now that’s a better blue-green. Once I rinsed all the wool, the Rit dye held well. And the colors stayed nice and bright.

Yellow Dye Pot I did a few more pots of dye with acid dyes.

Bright Spring Colors

And here is the result. Lots of bright colors for my stash and to make more cat toys.

Up Close

So if you want to try the liquid Rit dyes with wool, they will work fine. Just add in the vinegar and you can get some great colors. It’s not the dye I use all the time but hey, it was free.

About ruthlane

When I discovered felting in 2007, I finally found the creative outlet for which I had been searching. I love that the versatility of fiber allows me to “play” with a wide variety of materials including wool, silk, fabrics, yarns and threads. Creating one of a kind fiber art pieces to share with the world fulfills my creative passion.
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32 Responses to Dyeing Wool with Rit Dyes

  1. Nada says:

    You got some nice results with your experimentation. I’ll remember this brand if I see it on the shelves. I like the fact that you only need vinegar only and no other additives.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Nada – it is available here in the US even at the grocery stores. It doesn’t actually call for other additives at all but most people use it for cotton. I thought it would work better with the vinegar for animal fiber.

  2. koffipot says:

    Lovely brights there Ruth. I daresay the greater take up of the yellow was because it was a different type of dye.

    Seems like we’ve all had a colourful weekend! 🙂

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Judith – I don’t doubt that is true about the different dyes. But blue in general takes longer to strike so a combination of the two, I’m sure.

  3. Lyn says:

    Great result! The colours are wonderful and as Nada said it’s good that you only needed to add vinegar.

  4. luvswool says:

    Lovely, bright colors, Ruth! Makes me wonder why I bother with eco-dyeing. ;-))

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Cathy – the eco dyeing is definitely a different “animal”. It just takes so much work, different mordants that I don’t have and so I usually just stick with the acid dyes.

  5. Great colours Ruth. Did you not try putting some cotton in to use up the other half of the dye or was is the liquid a wool only dye?

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Ann. The liquid dye is definitely not made for wool. I am sure it is meant for cotton. I guess I could have stuck some cotton fabric in there but I didn’t even think about it. I was all about experimenting to see how it worked with wool. It is definitely an easier alternative for people in the US where it is readily available.

  6. zedster66 says:

    Great Results, Ruth 🙂
    Can I use my RIT powder dyes like I would acid dye powders?

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Zed. I haven’t tried the RIT powder dyes but it seems to me that it is probably much the same. I would just go for it and try it. It worked very well for me with the liquids. I might have to get some powder RIT next time I see it and try it out too.

    • the powdered RIT we get is for both types of fiber. they call it union dye because it has both types of dye in it. There is always half the dye left in the pot. That’s why I wondered about the liquid dye.

    • ruthlane says:

      Well I’m not sure about that but the first fuschia one did not leave half the dye. It was pretty much exhausted. The blue would have been closer to half the dye left though.

  7. In the US Rit dyes are sold in grocery stores, craft stores, Wal Mart, etc. so it is very easy to find if you want to dye something spur of the moment – Thanks for the wool experment. I have saved it and reused it. Rit Dye has an excellent web site and gives charts for mixing your own colors. They will even create a personalized formula for you. Check it out!

  8. Dianne says:

    Thank you for the great images and words throughout. What is your preferred method for drying the wool after it is dyed? Thank you ahead of time.

    • ruthlane says:

      You’re welcome Dianne. I drain the wool carefully by hand trying not to squeeze much. Then I put it in lingerie bags and put it in the washing machine on spin cycle only. Once it is spun, then I hang it over my shower curtain rod to finish drying which usually takes overnight to be completely dry.

    • Dianne says:

      thank you

  9. Leonor says:

    What beautiful, saturated, colours, Ruth! I would never think this type of dye would work on wool…

  10. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Great experiment Ruth! I am surprised you heated the dye pot then steamed it. Was that two separate steps? Usually, if I put it in the pot I keep it it in with the water at 180 degress for 30 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it sit to cool. I have some Rit dye I got on clearance so I will have to try it.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks Marilyn – I probably shouldn’t have used the word ‘steamed’. I heat up the water, add the dye and vinegar, then keep it on the stove for 30 minutes – not boiling but I don’t know the temp as I never measure it.

      It was surprising results for me.

    • Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

      No worries. That’s what I do as well. I guess the term steam thru me off since I steam plastic wrapped smaller items in the big pot, too.

  11. colormusing says:

    Love the bright colors! (My understanding of Rit dyes is that they are “union” dyes, a combination of both acid and fiber-reactive dyes, which is why your dye bath didn’t completely exhaust.) Good suggestion above about adding cotton to the bath! P.S. For those of you wanting to experiment with Rit dyes, their website has a huge (500 +) library of color recipes.

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks – yes, Ann had already suggested that they were a combination. But the red pot was essentially exhausted. So not sure why the fiber reactive dyes would take up so well on the wool. I will have to take a look at the Rit dye site but since I don’t have any more, not sure I’ll do much color mixing at this point.

    • colormusing says:

      That is really intriguing about the red dye– you just never know what will happen (or why)! This is probably what keeps me dyeing. : ) I love your projects and ideas, by the way!

    • ruthlane says:

      Thanks, dyeing is a mystery sometimes 🙂

  12. Flextiles says:

    Great colours. And your dye pots look pristine compared with mine! 😉

  13. Pingback: Brighter Cat Toys and Making a Few Batts | feltingandfiberstudio

  14. Terry Ricks says:

    I’m curious if you’ve ever used Rit to dye bamboo roving?

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