Tuesday, February 14, 2023

A quick post on color

Most first time dyers choose colors based on the array of choices on the display. Dye companies have sample sheets at the store and online for choosing, but out of the 20+ colors, which should you choose? 

Here are some suggestions for choosing your first colors to dye with:

The simplest choice - go with your favorite color to wear, and choose the dye color on the sheet that’s closest. Stick with one color dyeing and you will be sure to like it. 
The best thing about one-color dyeing is you have a target color and don’t have to make any other decisions and you don’t have to do any complicated mixing. 

Layered colors on fleece

But if you don't have a preset idea and want to experiment, layering color has the benefit of surprise and complexity, and is easy to do with this dye process. 

Layering the color means adding 2-3 dyes at the same time, without mixing them first.  There will be suggestions in the next post for how to apply the dyes, but first, you have to choose which colors. 
My main suggestion is to choose two and no more than three colors that all look good with each other.

The confident choice: choose two primary colors (red, blue, yellow), knowing that the color they make when they mix will also be a pure bright color. For example, a red and a blue will also have purple, a blue and a yellow will always make green. 

The stylish choice - Use a color wheel and choose adjacent colors - Choose a color and a color right next to it and the close relationship will have a nice effect together, like turquoise and blue, red and purple. 

The Goth choice: Black adds complexity to a pure color, making shades of that pure color, darker, grayer, subtler versions. Choose Black and one or two brighter colors. 

The adventurous choice: Throw all of the above out the door and use whatever colors call out to you. Remember that mixing any colors that are not primaries will reduce the color saturation, and give you grays. Mixing complementary colors will give you browns. Gorgeous grays and browns, and complex mixes in many cases, but be sure you are ready for sometimes good and sometimes disappointing results. 

If you are dyeing 4 ounces of fiber, then, you will need 250ml of dye in total (following the Tiny Bathroom dye series format) so you can break that amount in half, for two colors (125ml + 125ml), or thirds for three (about 85ml each) or any other combination that adds up to 250. 

The previous post covered mixing up powder dyes so check that out if you haven't already. The next post Dyeing Yarn in a Tiny Bathroom will be coming out within the week. 

Have fun!

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Mixing colors in a tiny bathroom

Hopefully you all have read the first installment, and you have an overview of the process, but before we let the dyeing begin, we need to mix powder dyes into liquids.  We'll be measuring dyes with teaspoons,  mixing them with tap water and storing them in plastic containers with twist lids. We'll be protecting your counter with a bin lid as well.

So, here is the video, and the details (equipment list, safety precautions) are below. 

 Please forgive the cramped space, bad lighting and oops, dingy tub you will be seeing. I leave those aspects in because this is what most of us have instead of a big, well-lit dedicated dye kitchen. But we can still make glorious color no matter what!

 See the equipment list below.  

Safety Precautions

Mixing powder dye is the only area in home dyeing where you have to make safety precautions, but they are very doable. 

1. Wear a mask and safety glasses while handling the powder. The powdered dyes are very fine and certain dyes will have pigments that can be irritating  at the least and toxic at the worst if you get them in your nose or eyes.  Isn't it lucky that we already know where to get masks these days?

2. Turn off any fans or heater/ac vents in the bathroom. Even a light breeze can launch powder into the air. If you can't control the ventilation, then measure and mix dye in a protective box (See below).

3. Put down newspaper and spritz it with water on the measuring/mixing area. If any powder falls on the bin lid while it's dry, it can get blown into the air or transferred onto your clothing or hands. Loose powder is both a safety hazard and a clean-up issue - powder dyes are VERY concentrated, and any loose powder can stain countertops and anything else it gets attached to. Wet newspaper and/or paper towels will capture the powder before it transfers elsewhere, and you can throw the damp paper away safely at the end of the session.

4. If there is no way to stop airflow, Set up a Mixing Box. A cardboard box that fits on your counter space, with or without the bin lid, is fine. See the photo & video for the setup, but basically, you will line the inside and surrounding counter with the spritzed newspaper. If you need to work on the counter outside the bin lid, you may want to put down a protective layer of plastic sheeting under the newspaper.


  • A bin lid to use as a work area, to protect the counter, covered in damp newspaper
  • A cardboard box (optional, see above)
  • A spritz bottle with water, to keep the newspaper damp
  • A set of measuring spoons
  • Plastic measuring cup, for 50ml - 500ml and/or
  • Plastic screw-top containers for storing liquid dye, one per color
  • A small plastic cup, for pasting the powder, one per color
  • Plastic spoons for mixing, one per color
  • Wash jug for used spoons and cups 
  • A large funnel, to help with cleanup

None of the above items should ever be used for food afterwards.

How much dye should I make?

You need to know first what your fiber will weigh. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the dry fiber to start. For the purposes of the Tiny Bathroom dye series, I’ve set the maximum per batch at 4 ounces. Larger pots and larger setups will get you bigger dye batches, but a 6 quart pot or crockpot will comfortably dye 4 ounces of yarn or fiber at a time.  

If you don’t have a scale, but are using commercial fiber with a label, just find the weight on the label. If neither option is available, don’t worry. The next post will cover the on-the-spot decisions like colors and quantities. Today, just go ahead and make the 250ml of dye. 

You can always dye less fiber and use less dye and have leftover dye for future use. As well, it’s always good to make a little extra and good also to make your calculations easy. Sticking to metric measurements and rounding your measurements to easy-to-measure numbers makes this part less difficult.

You can store covered dye containers in your home refrigerator as long as you put the plastic containers on a shelf where they won’t interact with food. Best if you have a shoebox or other large lidded box to hold all the containers til you need them. 

How much dye: The short version:

For 4 ounces of fiber, you will need about 230ml of dye to achieve a 2% Depth Of Shade (DOS). That is a medium dark intensity, about a 7 out of 10. It’s a good intense color to start with. Then we’ll round up to 250ml, to make measuring simple. 

That’s the total - if you want to use a red and a blue, you’ll use  125ml each, for example. (We’ll talk more about final color choices when we dye the fiber.)

So you will need to mix 250 ml for each batch. 


250 ml of warm water and

2 teaspoons of dye powder 

The longer version (with some math):

For 4 ounces of fiber, you will need about 230ml of dye at a 2%DOS, requiring about 4.6grams of powder, or 1.84tsp, or .61T. 

Rounding up to 250ml makes it easy - 5 grams of powder or 2 teaspoons of dye = 250ml at 2%DOS

Here’s the gram to teaspoon conversion:

1 gram of dye makes 50ml of liquid dye at 2%DOS (about a 70% darkness)

2.5 grams = 1 tsp dye powder

.4tsp =1 gram of powder = 50ml liquid dye at 2%DOS

5 grams of powder or 2 teaspoons of dye = 250ml at 2%DOS

I am open to all questions and especially math corrections! Next post will be Dyeing yarn in a Tiny Bathroom. 

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