Friday, 26 June 2009

Just Beet It - part III

Who knew that my beetroot dyeing title would become so topical, what with the demise of the "King of Pop".

In response to much interest in my beetroot yarn and debate on it's colour fastness I'm outlining how I dyed the yarn in case anyone else wants to have a go.

Most dyeing websites will tell you beetroot produces a grungy yellow colour and is not colour fast. This is probably referring to using fresh beetroot. I'm new to dyeing but will postulate that pickled beetroot juice works differently to fresh due to the pickling process.

Anyway, theories aside, this is what I did.


  • I skein Zirton Treking undyed superwash sock yarn.
  • The juice/vinegar from two 710g jars of Waitrose Pickled Sliced Beetroot. The ingredients on the label are beetroot, sugar, barley malt vinegar, acetic acid, salt. I had about 2/3 of a 710g jar of beetroot vinegar.


1) Presoak the yarn in tepid water with a dash of washing up liquid until the yarn is moist. Drain off any excess water.

2) Put the end of the skein in the jar of beetroot juice, squidging the yarn with a gloved hand (saying Ow shamone in a Michael Jackson stylee if desired)so the juice penetrates the yarn. Leave to sit for about 30min.

Note: I was making a dip dyed yarn. For a solid yarn soak the whole skein in the juice. For dip dyed yarn I used dilutions of the juice for a graduated effect. The palest section of yarn looked a beautiful baby pink colour before steaming however this turned a mucky yellow after steaming.

3)Wrap the yarn in cling film or place in a thin plastic bag. Gently steam for 1 hour. Allow yarn to cool then rinse in tepid water with a splash of shampoo. Rinse again with water.

Repeat from step 2 until the yarn is the shade of orange you desire. I added a few drops of natural red food colouring to lift the orange in one section of my variegated yarn.

As I said before, I am new to dyeing so the method above is more of a guideline. Just play around and see what you come up with and above all have fun.

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