Dyeing Wool with Rit Dyes

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.

37 thoughts on “Dyeing Wool with Rit Dyes

  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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! 🙂

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. I like using Rit on cellulose. The site says it can be used on wool with the addition of vinegar. Rit wool directions call for a lot of stirring and that caused me to back off. Alas, I’ve got a drawer full of unintentionally felted wool and don’t need more. Instead, yesterday I did a test swatch using a Rit formula just to see what I’d get without stirring. I was after something like tan and instead got a beautiful olive-lime green. I can only assume it was not stirring since I did everything else Rit called for including testing on white wool.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  7. Ruth, thinking back to this older post, I’m trying my first Rit dye with merino. Your wool did not felt when you tried it? I guess it didn’t or you would have said so.

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