a genuinely wacky experiment

I need­ed some brown cot­ton yarn for a project, but I did­n’t have any. All I had was the cream colour kind. So I thought, isn’t that like a blank can­vas for colour­ing? :D I found this real­ly help­ful list for dye­ing yarn with nat­ur­al mate­ri­als, and was thrilled to see that cof­fee grind was on the list.

“Don’t we have some espres­so that’s been in the freez­er for over 2 years?” exclaimed I.

“Just don’t use it all,” said Mike, a bit weary.


So I set out to brew 6 cups of real­ly, real­ly, real­ly strong espres­so, poured it into a mason jar, and dunked the ball of yarn in it.

Note: This is not a waste because 1. the cof­fee is TWO years old and it’s been sit­ting in the freez­er the WHOLE time. I’ve been taught by experts that one should NEVER put cof­fee in the freez­er. So this cof­fee is basi­cal­ly ruined; 2. it’s for art! It’s nev­er a waste when it’s used for art; 3. we hard­ly ever drink cof­fee. Tea was also list­ed as a nat­ur­al dye but I would nev­er use tea to dye any­thing. Tea is for drink­ing. But we don’t real­ly drink cof­fee. Mike some­times tries to make a cap­puc­ci­no but our cof­fee machine does­n’t know how to make a prop­er cap­puc­ci­no. Trust me, I know [the­o­ret­i­cal­ly] how a prop­er cap­puc­ci­no is made; and 4. if one were to drink the 6 cups of real­ly, real­ly, real­ly strong espres­so one would stay awake for days, weeks, even months. It is not good. So it can only be used for dye­ing yarn.)

Any­way. I stared at the jar and wait­ed overnight. Very patiently.
(I must admit that I did open the jar to poke at it sev­er­al times, but resist­ed the urge to take all of it out.)

Final­ly, the next morn­ing, I took it out and rinsed it under the tap until the water ran clear.

After rins­ing real­ly quite a bit lighter than I hoped but it looked like the yarn had tak­en in the colour!  It looked like it worked! :D

And now, it need­ed to be air dried. So I wait­ed anoth­er day and night.

I could see that the colour was get­ting lighter as it dried… a bit worried.

But I went ahead with the project anyway.

And now, the moment of truth! How does it fare in cro­chet stitches?

Fab­u­lous. :D

It’s not as dark as I have imag­ined, but I love the mot­tled effects of dark­er and lighter brown. Plus, it smells like strong cof­fee! (I like the aro­ma of cof­fee, just don’t like to drink it because it makes me jittery.)

The project is a secret for now… will be revealed in a few months.…

When I vis­it­ed the nat­ur­al dyes arti­cle again I real­ized that, because I was so excit­ed to see that cof­fee grinds can dye yarn, I neglect­ed to read the part about soak­ing the yarn in colour fix­a­tives pri­or to dye­ing so the colour would set. In the case of cof­fee, I prob­a­bly should’ve used a vine­gar solu­tion, and the colour would prob­a­bly be more brown than straw-like, as it is now… Oh well! next time I know. And I think if I read more about it I could actu­al­ly go out and col­lect plants for dye­ing. That would be so much fun! But for now, it might be bet­ter if I try with stuff that are more read­i­ly avail­able. Like at the gro­cery store. So maybe I’ll try beet next :D I’ll let you know if there’s anoth­er wacky exper­i­ment at my house!

Have a fab­u­lous week­end everyone!

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