Ukrainians have long used commercial wool dyes for coloring their pysanky. Until quite recently, these dyes were only available in large packets, like those pictured above, and gave variable results when used with eggs (as opposed to wool). They are packaged by the «Атей-плюс» (“Atey-plius”) company of Lviv, and sold throughout Ukraine.

The older packages often came with a bit of dyed yarn to indicate the color, like the package of dark blue dye shown here (see arrow):

Newer packets have the name of the dye color stamped across the bottom of the package, in front.

To prepare the wool dyes for pysankarstvo, measure out about half a teaspoon of the powdered dye, and add 1.5 cups of boiling water to it.  Mix well, and then add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar. Cool to room temperature before using.

The instructions on the packet refer to mixing the dyes for use with wool:

and include a “best if used by” date and a serial number of sorts. Do not follow these instructions, because, if the half cup of vinegar and/or three spoons of salt don’t ruin your pysanka, boiling for 45 minutes will.

Note: According to the instructions on the smaller pysanka dye packets, DO NOT add vinegar to the orange and yellow dyes.  Since the dyes in both sizes appear to be the same, this should apply to all the dyes.

In my experience to date with these dyes, which has been limited, the black dye is fantastic, the orange and yellow very poor*, the red very pink-toned, and the green turned into a slurry.  I am mixing up new batches (armed with the new instructions about vinegar), and am testing them out again.


  1. * The dye packets all stated the need to add vinegar, so I did.  I must now try making these two dyes without added vinegar.

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Dyes for Wool

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