One pot dye parties

by Donna Druchunas
photos by Dominic Cotignola

Click here for information on hosting a dye party.

One-pot natural dye recipe for wool
One-pot dye recipes are perfect for dye parties. Each dyepot can be used by one person, or shared by several.  This one-pot recipe uses an alum mordant with 112 grams (4 oz.) of yarn – enough to make a pair of mittens, a cap, or socks.

  • 8 litres (2 gallons) water
  • .5 m (½ yd.) of cheesecloth or one panty-hose leg
  • 112 g (4 oz.) of marigold blossoms (or the natural dyestuff of your choice)
  • 112 g (4 oz.) yarn
  • 1 Tbs alum
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar


1. Wash your skeined yarn and leave it soaking for at least thirty minutes, until it is wet through-and-through.

Tip: You might suggest that each guest at the party soak their yarn in advance and bring their wet yarn in a plastic bucket that they can also use for rinsing.

2. Fill a large stainless steel or enamel dye pot three-quarters full with water. Wrap the marigold blossoms in cheesecloth or in an old panty-hose leg and add to the dye pot. Slowly raise the temperature and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. In a jar or glass, mix the alum and cream of tartar with warm water until completely dissolved. Add this to the pot and stir.

4. Gently add the yarn, making sure it has enough room to move in the pot. Simmer, keeping the temperature below the boiling point, for at least thirty minutes. The longer you leave the yarn in the dyebath, the deeper colors you will get.

5. Remove the yarn from the dyepot and let cool, then rinse and hang dry. For deeper colors, you can also let the yarn cool in the dyebath.

Further Reading
A Dyers Garden, Rita Buchanan, Interweave Press, 1995

Wild Color, Jenny Dean, Watson-Guptill Publications, 1999

The Fabric and Yarn Dyer’s Handbook, Tracy Kendall, Coolins & Brown, 2001

The Complete Natural Dyeing Guide, Marie Sugar, Rug Hooking Magazine, 2002


Originally published in Fibre Focus magazine, Spring 2004. Copyright (c) 2002-2003 Donna Druchunas, all rights reserved.