Dyeing Wool Yarn…with a Microwave

plant dyed yarn samples waldorfmoms.com Follow Me on Pinterest


plant dyed yarn waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest

My teacher in the Handwork Program at Rudolph Steiner College used to hand dye–with plant dyes–all the the yarn and embroidery floss for her students to use throughout the year.  She was such an inspiration to me and being proficient at plant dyeing is on my “bucket list”–using especially the plants that we have available here in Hawaii.  The two pictures above are from a weekend plant dyeing workshop that I went to and also a few (messy! no niddy noddy!) skeins I dyed with fustic wood and logwood.  It was a long, but satisfying project.

As I wrote about before in my niddy noddy post, I had twenty skeins of yarn ready to dye and I had one day (without kids) to do it in.  I wanted to hand paint various shades of beach-y blues and greens and had some powdered (Jacquard) dyes that I wanted to use.  I turned to my new favorite dyeing book by Gail Callahan “Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece”.  The book offers great step-by-step methods and I want to try “solar” dyeing one day soon.  But, since I had a time constraint and a lot of wool to dye, I knew I needed to try her method of dyeing wool yarn with a microwave.   I found a $20 working microwave at a thrift store and I was set!

Dyeing wool yarn with microwave railing waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing wool yarn with microwave close up green waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing wool yarn with a microwave waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing wool yarn with a microwave purples Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing yarn with microwave close up blues waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing wool yarn with microwave green ball waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing wool yarn with microwave blue ball waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing with microwave pinks green waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest


dyeing with microwave blue tan waldorfmoms Follow Me on Pinterest

I know that some people have concerns about using microwave for their food, but using a microwave to set the dye on my yarn made it such a fun and satisfying project.  It cut out so much time and mess!  And, that joy (that all dyers know) when you unveil the color you have created is still the same with the microwave method.  In fact, it was almost breathtaking to me to have been able to create all of these different colors in one session and then see them hanging to dry on the line.  

If you’re interested in dyeing wool yarn with a microwave, let me know and I can post a quick tutorial.  It makes dyeing so easy…

Now I’m off to start knitting a blanket (which might take me a year) with all of my newly dyed yarn!


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  1. The best use of a microwave I can imagine! I love the colors you ended up with. Do you have a pattern you’re planning to use?
    Jeni recently posted..12 Best Time Management Tips for BloggersMy Profile

    • Hi Jeni,
      Thank you! I love dyeing and watching to see what color emerges–I never quite know what I’m going to get! I’m planning trying some “log cabin” knitting where rectangles are pieced together in a playful way. (no pattern, no counting stiches, hooray!) I’m following those fun “Mason Dixon” girls…We’ll see how it goes…
      Thanks for your comment and question. Aloha, Lori

  2. I’d love to read a tutorial on how to do this please. We have recently replaced our microwave and so have an old one that I am presuming would be ok to use.

    • Hi Jeanette,
      Yes, please save that microwave if it’s still in safe, good working order! I’ll work on the tutorial. Thanks so much, Lori

  3. I would love a tutorial on this! I don’t have much experience yet using plant dyes yet but I would love to find a simple way! I knew I kept that microwave for something!

  4. Hi Lori, I just love how your page is designed, it got better and better and it’s perfect now!
    I can leave a comment too! That’s awesome.
    Also, thank you for putting my link on your page! I appreciated very much.
    I would love to learn how to dye wool with microwave, I am looking forward to your
    tutorial and I can’t wait! I will follow your pin it too! Sometimes I am looking for specific
    color and I order wool fiber online and only to find out that was not the exact color I wanted when delivered… ALoha~

    • Hi Bonnie, I’m so happy to link to your beautiful needle felted pieces and thank you for your kind words. Yes, it IS hard to order online, so dyeing might work for you! (although with dyeing, there are always “surprises”–most of them good!) Thanks for visiting Bonnie…Aloha, Lori

  5. I would love the tutorial too….I’ve never dyed before and using a microwave as you have described sounds like some thing I could do…

    • Hi Jayne,

      Thanks for visiting! Using a microwave is really easy, a good way to “ease” into dyeing. I’ll work on the tutorial. Please give me a couple weeks because I just realized that I don’t have enough pictures and will need to do some more dyeing…Thank you and aloha, Lori

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