Today I used up one of the four in the name of science...
...in search of a good BROWN. I soaked them all overnight, in a container of water with a splash of vinegar, a dash of salt and a smidgeon of dishwashing liquid. Then I put each into a different dye bath, but most got the same heat treatment (three lots of 1-2min in the microwave with a break between).
Here are the results (I won't show you the messy kitchen result, but you can probably imagine...):
1. Cocoa: Winner of the BEST smelling dyebath. lol. It was nice and dark, but washed out heaps.
2. Tea: winner of the most "caramel"ish color. I used four tea bags in a cup of boiling water.
3. Twice-dyed food dye: Winner of the most disappointment for the most work. I first tried soy sauce, which washed right out. Then I dyed it with green food coloring (1.5ml in a cup) and heated, washed and dried it. Then I overdyed it with 1.5ml of Rose Pink. It looked like it was going to work... until the wash. Then it became a purple/green that I hate. :P
4. Food coloring: 1ml of green and 1ml of rose pink, mixed together. The green and pink separated out of the brown a bit, but in a bearable way. It exhausted the color, so I wonder if you could actually get solid brown if you just used a TONNE of it?
5. Coffee (the cheap stuff, not the nice Fair Trade stuff): Winner of the Microwave Mess award. Smelled almost as good as cocoa.
6. Cola (coloring 150D). Winner of the Ghost Brown award. Thought it was going to wash completely out, but it stopped fading at this nice pale color.
7. Queens Coffee Essence (coloring 150D): Slightly cooler color than real coffee, and didn't smell quite as nice. Same coloring agent as cola, but different result. Like the coffee, the color didn't exhaust.
8. Kiwi Kids scuff brown liquid Shoe Polish: winner of the Girly Pink award. Weird thing to try, perhaps, but it was fun squeezing it on. I used extra dishwashing detergent, because it was a bit waxy, and the only part of the color that really stayed was a musty brown/pink, which I actually like, though I'm not the Pink sort.
9. Queens Immitation Chocolate (coloring 155): WINNER!! It exhausted the dye bath down to a pale blue, and left the yarn a fantastic chocolate brown :D Can't tell you how pleased I was! I wondered if it was just the amount (as I'd put a whole 100ml bottle onto the 10g skein-lette) so I used the dregs to dye a tiny bit of leftover scrap...
10. It was paler (of course) but there was no color bleeding. Just white and pale brown! See:
A 100ml bottle cost me about $1.30, I think, so it might not necessarily be cheaper than a normal fibre dye. But I like the idea of a pale brown semisolid yarn, and now it might be doable. Woohoo!
Just one problem with the IC method: I washed it lots, and still didn't completely get out the chocolate smell... what a shame :D