Black Bean Dyeing

I’m so excited to share with you my 2nd natural dyeing tutorial. This is definitely one of my favorites because there is no heat required for setting the dye. It’s basically a set it and forget it kind of dye project! The only time you need to heat up the yarn is when you’re adding mordant to it. I hope you enjoy this fun dyeing method!


  • 1 bag of dry black beans, mine was 16 oz.
  • Large bowl or jar, I used a gallon sized mason jar. Any large container would work fine. As long as it’s deep enough for yarn to be fully submerged.
  • Water
  • Large Pot
  • Strainer
  • Dish towel
  • Alum and Cream of Tartar, found in spice section of your local grocery store.
  • Natural yarn of choice. I used Knitpicks Stroll Fingering yarn (75% superwash merino wool/25% nylon)

Step 1: Pour the bag of black beans into your large container and add 12 cups of water. Measuring your water isn’t completely necessary, but if you’d like to try and duplicate colorways, then it would be important to do so. Just make sure you add enough water to fully cover the beans and some extra so that your yarn will be able to be fully submerged in the water later on. Keep in mind that the beans will soak up a little of the water, so the water level will go down slightly after we drain the beans out. Let the beans soak for 12-24 hours and every few hours give the beans a stir.

Step 2: While the beans are soaking, prep your yarn. First you want to let your yarn soak in water for at least 30 minutes or until the fibers are fully saturated.

Step 3: Mordant your yarn. Fill your pot with enough water to cover your yarn. Bring the water to a light simmer and add 2 teaspoons each of Alum and Cream of Tartar and mix until dissolved. Add your yarn and let it simmer for an hour to let the mordant adhere to the yarn.

*If you’re using non superwash yarn, be careful not to agitate the yarn too much in the cooking and washing process to avoid felting*

Step 3: Drain the beans out of the water. I like to line a strainer with a dish towel and put it inside a large bowl. You can then pour the dye into the strainer and the towel will catch all the beans and any small particles.

Your dye will be a dark grey color with a hint of red/purple .

Step 4: Add yarn to black bean dye and let it sit for 12-24 hours. Every few hours I like to stir the yarn around in the dye to make sure the color gets evenly distributed on the yarn.

It won’t look like much when you first add the yarn to the dye bath and you’ll probably think.. how is this going to turn blue? Just wait.. you’ll notice the colors change after it sits for a little while.

Step 5: Wash your yarn with your favorite wool wash or a little bit of dish detergent. Rinse the yarn until the wash water runs clear and then hang to dry! Yarn dries fast outside on a nice sunny day but you can let it dry indoors. I will sometimes put my drying rack in my bath tub and let it dry for 24-48 hours.

Here are my results from the same dye bath. The first skein I left soaking overnight. When I took it out there was still some color left to the dye bath so I added the 2nd skein. Your results may vary depending on the PH level of your water and the amount of beans and water you use.

If you try out this tutorial, please tag me on IG @wildwooddesignsme. I’d love to see what you come up with!

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