Kenanthrol Acid Dyes (acid milling)

Dyeing your own fibre or spun yarn is really easy!

It’s exciting and fun to do and adds a whole new dimension to your creativity. You can dye solid colours or paint the fibre/yarn to create all sorts of amazing effects – try tie dye and other resist methods too for unique results.

I offer a range of Kenanthrol  Acid dyes for any protein fibre – wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca….  If the fibre came from an animal it is a protein fibre and will dye with these dyes. Don’t be put off by the term ‘Acid’ – this simply refers to the acid needed, in combination with heat, to fix the dyes onto the fibre. This is the equivalent of using a mordant, enabling a good bond between the dye molecules and the fibre. Often people use vinegar as it is common in households and easy to obtain. I use Citric acid with very good results, and no smell. I will also supply general use citric acid – more information coming soon.

Kenanthrol dyes are pure and extremely concentrated. All are fully intermixable with each other to offer the widest colour palette possible. The dye colours are, on the whole, solid colours rather than mixed dyes to achieve the perceived colour. This makes the colours very clean and bright. Some colours are very strong indeed and a little dye will go a very long way, others less so, and all are more economical to use than general ‘acid dyes’. Kenanthrol dyes, unlike other acid dyes offered, do not contain packers or salts to bring the stronger colours down to the lowest common denominator. As a broad indicator, you will need 1% to 3 % of dye to achieve the strongest colour on wool, depending on the dye. Paler shades obviously need less dye. Remember also that if there is colour left in the water, it can dye fibre – don’t pour it away! Unused dye solutions store well if you can’t use it up straight away.

Small 10g packets of dye allow you to experiment with many colours at minimum outlay, £3.00 each, while larger packets, 25g at £6.00 each, are available at lower cost per gram. They are packed in grip seal bags rather than bottles for minimum postage cost.

  • 21 colours currently available:

  • Scarlet
  • Blood Red
  • Claret Red
  • Orange
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Daffodil Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Antique Gold
  • Emerald Green
  • Bottle Green
  • Turquoise
  • Mid Blue
  • Electric Blue
  • Royal Blue
  • Rich Navy
  • Deep Navy
  • Violet
  • Aubergine
  • Chestnut Brown
  • Dark Brown
  • Intense Black

Llanwenog rainbow with beads

It is difficult to show these colours accurately as all monitors will show the colours differently. See the picture for the colours dyed on white wool. Different fibres also react differently – silk takes the colours extremely well and will produce a more intense colour than wool dyed at the same time in the same dyebath. The hand dyed batts shown elsewhere in the website are all dyed with these Kenanthrol acid dyes and more pictures will be added to these pages soon.

The dyes are supplied in powder form and, just as with using any powder, care is needed when handling them. Always wear latex or vinyl gloves – surgical style gloves give best dexterity. Take sensible precautions to minimise sending the powder into the air. Don’t eat or drink while using the dyes and, though the dyes are non toxic, use pots and pans specifically kept for your dyeing fun rather than using domestic ware. Contaminants from equipment will adversely affect your dyeing results. For small amounts of fibre and yarn I make good use of empty plastic tubs, such as ice cream containers – as long as they are literally ‘squeaky’ clean. They cope with hot contents and being ‘pinged’ in the microwave. What a pity we have to eat the ice cream to get at the tubs first….

I am working on an information leaflet regarding dyeing with these acid dyes, in the meantime you are welcome to contact me to help you build your own experience! You can also take a look at the links page for an excellent article from, (opens in a new window). Daisy. Shetland x Ryeland