Many people have been requesting recipes for using Wiltons paste, food colors and the ever popular Koo Aid.  We have attempted to make a few and post our results for your benifit.  First of all food type dyes are easy to find, cheap and fun to use.  These are great to start with and once you feel comfortable using them you can feel more confident using chemical dyes.  It is especially important that you use caution with chemical dyes if you have small children, but also use solid safty precautions when using food dyes as well.  Black Wiltons paste will turn a two year old girls face magenta for about three days.  Not to mention the danger of simmering pots of water that could scald little ones.

The other thing you need to know is that food color dyes like chemical dyes can fade in the sun.  This is a double edged sword.  On one hand if you leave a handspun, food dyed and handknitted garment out in the sun for about three weeks surrounded by white snow, then this will happen.

sunfaded hand knit scarf

So if you are making a garment for a four year old, check to see that she brings in inside after playing in the snow Tongue out

On the other side of the issue, if this were done in a more consistent way, it would actually be quite beautiful.  Realize that sun fading happens, even with chemical dyes, although some of them are more lightfast than others.

Now to get down to the fun stuff.  To do these tests yourself and make up your own recipes, use a sharpie marker and label some old jelly jars, canning jars or glass measuring cups with numbers.  As and aside if the two and four year old color each others faces black it takes three or four days to get it off, so put these away when you are finished.  I have heard that Mr Clean Magic Erasers take this off, but I haven't had this happen since the great face coloring incident of 2005, but I digress.

After labeling the jars fill them with hot water, and put some roving on to soak in hot water with just a tiny amount of dish soap.  Add a small amount of acid like vinegar to the water in the jars, perhaps a tablespoon.  Combine your food colors and if you need to add less than one drop dilute it in water then add it that way.

Place your roving in the dye and microwave them for 3 minutes or until they are very hot, I use these as a reference, and also for needle felting projects.

Write down each color and how much you used carefully on a paper or card, along with the number on the jar.  You can use left-over Christmas gift tags or cut up the boxes for tags.  

Keep reheating until it takes all of the dye out of the water or until you are sick of dealing with it, most of them will absorb all of the dye eventually, but some don't so if it seems like it isn't absorbing then call it quits and see if you like what you got.  These tests are usually very highly saturated so sometimes the fiber just can't get it all absorbed and that is ok.

Dry the roving by rolling it in a towel and walking on the towel.  Then lay it out with it's card.  Once dry you can make a cut in the side of the card, and slip your roving in this notch to secure it.  Finally break the extra length off and put it in a plastic re-closeable sack, and your tagged samples in another one.  Now you have a record of what you did to refer to.

Here are the results we got from our testing, we edited the pictures some to get as pure of a color as possible, but it could be different on your monitor, so if you like a color, try it on a small sample.


For dyeing about one ounce to the extreme vibrancy shown follow the amount shown, reduce it for lighter colors or increase it for darker colors, or more fiber.  Please note that the amounts shown for one ounce of fiber is an estimate, I haven't tested it yet, however if it's too light you can always remove your fiber, add more drops and replace the fiber.  Don't forget to add about 1/4 cup of vinegar.  What is important is the ratio.

From left to right:

1. Regular food color drops, ratio of 3 green to 1 yellow.
2. Neon food color drops, ratio of 25 green to 2 blue.
3. Regular food color drops, ratio of 3 blue to 2 green.
blue greens
4. Neon food color drops, ratio of four drops blue to one drop green.
5. Neon food color drops, ratio of 10 blue and 3 green.
6. Reg food color drops, ratio of 2 blue plus 1 yellow.
7. Kool Aid, equal amounts of Changing Cherry and Berry Blue.
8. Kool Aid, equal amounts of Changing Cherry, Lemon Lime, and Ice Raspberry Blue Lemonade.
 purples and pinks

9. Kool Aid, two parts Black Cherry and one part Changing Cherry.
10. Regular food color drops, ratio 3 red to 1 blue.
11. Regular food color drops, ratio 3 red to 2 blue.

I need to note that I couldn't correct these colors, they are NOT so brownish but they are not jewel type colors either.

red orange and burgandy


12. Regular food colors, ratio of 12 red and one blue.

13. Neon food colors, ratio of 8 green and 3 pink.

14. Neon food colors, ratio of 6 pink and 1 blue.

Number 12 and 14 are really nice colors, they are fairly true, but 14 is literally the color of a nice red wine.




15. Neon food color drops, ratio of 5 pink to 3 blue

16. Neon food color drops, ratio of 6 blue and 3 purple

Please let us know if you test these and have problems and I hope that these recipes will be useful for all of you.  I have begun to come up with my own combinations, and will post them upon completion.  These are mostly just ratios from the back of the box for mixing colors, so try them yourself and see what happens.