a hand holding a bunch of dandelion flowers

How To Dye Yarn With Dandelions

This blog post contains a step-by-step approach of how to dye yarn with dandelions. Although they are often considered weeds, dandelions have many interesting properties and thus can be used in various ways. I have listed some different applications below. But we will first and foremost focus on the natural dyeing properties of dandelions.

In a previous blog post about 5 Weeds & Wildflowers You Can Use For Natural Dyeing I already mentioned the use of dandelion as a dye plant.

a hand holding one dandelions flower

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Description & Origin of Dandelions

Dandelions are a species of flowering plants in the Taraxacum genus. They belong to the Asteraceae family. The common name dandelion comes from the French term “dent de lion” which means lion’s tooth. It depicts the form of the leaves. Dandelions appear in early spring and are an important nectar source for a multitude of pollinators. They are well known for their yellow flower heads and round balls of silver-tufted fruits. Dandelions are perennial plants.

Dandelions are thought to have evolved about 30 million years ago in Eurasia. Today they are present on six continents.

Uses of Dandelions


The entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots, is edible and nutritious, with nutrients such as vitamins A and K as well as calcium and iron. Dandelions can be harvested from the wild or grown as a leaf vegetable. The leaves can be eaten both raw and cooked.

The flowers can be used to make a honey substitute syrup.

Medicinal Applications

Dandelions have been used in traditional medicine in Europe, North America, and China. The first evidence for their therapeutic use was mentioned by Arabian physicians of the 10th and 11th centuries. Dandelions are used as a natural remedy to support blood sugar management and to boost skin, liver and heart health.

Dye Source

Obviously, dandelions can also be used for natural dyeing purposes (hence this post). Let’s have a closer look on how to dye yarn with dandelions now.

a hand holding a bunch of dandelion flowers

Tips for Dyeing Yarn with Dandelions

#1 Gentle Dyeing Process

As is the case with natural dyeing in general, slow is usually best. Slowly heating the plant material until just before simmering, letting the dye solution sit overnight before filtering off the dye material or even heating a second time is beneficial to the color depth of the dye solution. Cooking the dyestuff can dull the color.

#2 Freshness of the Plant Materials

In general, using fresh plant material will create more vibrant colors compared to dye stuff that has been stored for some time.

#3 How many Dandelions should I Use? And Which Parts?

Obviously, the higher the amount of dyestuff you use compared to the weight of the yarn will result in more or less intense colors. For my experiment, I used about the same weight of dyestuff and yarn. But I also successfully tried using only about half of the amount of dyestuff. You can utilize both the heads and leaves for natural dyeing purposes. I tried using only the heads as well as a mix of leaves and heads and didn’t notice a significant difference in the final color results.

How to Dye Yarn with Dandelions: Natural Dyeing Process

List of Materials

Undyed skein of yarn100 g
You can simply use an undyed, natural skein of yarn. Maybe you even have some suitable yarn already in your stash. If you want to use a yarn that is in the form of a ball or cake, you have to create a skein first. This can be done by using a swift (this is the one I use and can recommend).
I used my Luster Sock DK yarn (100% German Merino wool).
Alum14 g
Alum or potassium alum (KAl(SO4)2·12H2O) is a mordant which means that it is used to set dyes on fibers by forming a coordination complex with the dye. It increases the fastness of the dye.
PotYou can use an old pot or acquire one just for natural dyeing purposes. This is the size I use if I dye only one skein at a time, it has a holding capacity of 6 qt (5.7 L).
Bucket or Washing PanTo scour and wash the yarn.
Kitchen ScaleTo measure the alum and dyestuff. This is the one I use.
TieTo secure the yarn and avoid tangling. You have to use something that is stable in boiling water and doesn’t give off any color. I usually use some kind of package cord.
SpoonWooden or stainless steel
Dish ShoapWhatever you have on hand.
This is used to scour and wash the yarn.
Wool Laundry DetergentThis is the one I use and can recommend. It is gentle and doesn’t have any smell.

Precautions: Don’t use the same pots and utensils for natural dyeing that you use for food preparation. Always wear gloves. Creating the dye solution and the dyeing process itself should be done in a well ventilated area. I often use a cooking plate that I put on my patio.


Pour boiling water over 30 g of dandelions heads (pot A) and 15 g of dandelions heads and leaves (pot B) and let them sit overnight. On the next day, slowly heat them until just before simmering for half an hour. Subsequently, turn off the heat and let the dye solutions sit overnight. On the following day, filter off the dyestuff.

a dye pot filled with water, dandelion flowers and leaves

Add two mini skeins of yarn (15 g each) which were mordanted with alum beforehand to each dye pot. You can learn all about how I mordant my yarns in this blog post.

Next, slowly heat the dye pots and let them simmer for 60 minutes. Then allow the solutions to cool down and sit overnight. On the following day, take the skeins out of the dye baths, wash and hang to dry.

Modifying with Iron

If you want to broaden the color spectrum that dandelions can produce, you can do so by modifying your yarn with iron sulfate after the dyeing process is complete.

In order not to damage the fibers and make them brittle, I only immerse my yarns in an iron bath for a short amount of time and without applying any heat. You can read all about my general method for modifying yarn with iron in this blog post. Usually, I only let the yarn sit in the iron bath for about 30 minutes. However, I didn’t see a significant change in color with these dandelion dyed skeins. Therefore I allowed the skeins to sit in the iron bath for 60 minutes. Afterwards, wash out the skeins thoroughly and hang to dry.

four mini skeins of yarns naturally dyed with dandelions

How to Dye Yarn with Dandelions: Color Results

Now, let’s have a look at the color results. According to the literature, I was expecting a bright yellow from dandelions and a muted green after modifying with iron. However, the final colorways are a lot softer and less clear than I anticipated.

four mini skeins of yarns naturally dyed with dandelions

The dandelions themselves created a soft vanilla (pot A) and beige (pot B). And after modifying with iron, the skeins turned into a light greyish green color.

Have you tried dyeing with dandelions before? Which colorways did you achieve? Come share in the comments below, I would love to know if your experiences are similar to mine.

Pin It For Later: How to Dye Yarn with Dandelions

If you want some more inspiration on plants and other natural materials you can use for natural dyeing, I recommend that you have a look at these blog posts:

Natural Dyeing with Amaranth

How to Dye Yarn with Coffee

Dyeing Yarn with Onion Skins

Natural Dyeing with Avocado: Pits vs. Skins

Natural Dyeing with Cochineal

Dyeing Yarn with Rosemary

How to Dye with Indigo

Want to learn how to dye yarn using natural dyes?

I have created a beginner’s guide to natural dyeing that contains everything you need to know to get started. And the best thing: it is available for free!

four hand dyed skeins of yarn in shades of purple and blue on a wooden surface and a text saying beginner's guide: www.rosemaryandpinesfiberarts.de. natural dyeing. everything you need to know to get started dyeing yarn with natural dyes

Further Reading on Dandelions





Dean, Jenny, et al. Wild Colour: How to Make & Use Natural Dyes. Mitchell Beazley, 2018


I am a yarn dyeing artist, writer and educator.
I am also an avid knitter and love to create something with my hands every day.
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