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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