Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid.

I have a new yarn-related obsession. (I know, like I really needed one. :)
I want to experiment with natural dyeing this year, but I'm still waiting on things to grow so I can actually use them. So, in the meantime, I stumbled across dyeing with food dyes. This technically isn't natural, because these things are filled with artificial colors and such. But it is safe, to a certain extent, anyway. People do ingest these things, you know. :) I actually don't remember ever drinking Kool-Aid. If I did, it was probably at VBS or another kid's birthday party or something.
So over the weekend I gathered up some white yarn and stocked up on the little Kool-Aid packs at the grocery store so I could do some experimenting. :) I used the instructions found here, but here is basically what I did...

I started off with a skein of yarn from Hobby Lobby (I Love This Wool! Naturals in ivory) that I had bought months ago to dye. I wound it into a hank on my niddy noddy and then gave it a bath in the sink with a bit of detergent.

Most people seem to agree that the basic starting point is 1 package of Kool-Aid for every ounce of yarn. This skein was 220 yards and weighed 4 ounces, so I opened 4 packs of the black cherry flavor. While the yarn was still soaking, I put those in a pot and added enough water to dissolve the powder (being sure to keep the water at about the same temp. as the water I was soaking the yarn in).

This was the color of the water:

Then I started adding more cold water to the pot as I transferred the yarn from the sink into the pot. As soon as it hit the water, it started changing colors. :) And at this point, I was getting pretty excited.

I finished filling the pot up with cold water, and look at how red the yarn already is.

Then I put the pot on high heat on the stovetop for a few minutes until it started smoking (steaming? Nothing was on fire :) and was close to boiling. The yarn had absorbed all of the color from the water, and the water was clear:

Then I turned the heat off, covered the pot, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. (You can set the heat in the microwave, but we don't use one so I used the stove.) Then I let it cool, and after it was cool, I rinsed it, then washed it in detergent, then rinsed it again. It didn't seem to lose any of its color.

I was getting a bit braver now, so I pulled out the second handspun that I made on my spinning wheel, and started the process all over again.

I had seen online where if you use lemon-lime Kool-Aid and green food coloring, you can get a pretty darker green. (Lemon-lime itself tends to be lime green.) This yarn was 3 ounces, so I should have used 3 packs of Kool-Aid, but I only had two. So I put both of those in, but it was looking pretty bright.

So I ended up adding approx. 20 drops of green food coloring and about 3 or 5 drops of blue. I don't really think this did any good, because this color was bright green. Like St. Patrick's Day green.

When I was heating it up, I realized that the water was actually a light teal color, I guess from the blue food coloring. You have to use acid to help the colors stick to the yarn. Kool-Aid has enough citric acid in it to do that, but when you add food coloring, you also have to add more acid. So I added two tablespoons of white vinegar, and soon the water was completely clear.

I finished the process with this yarn, and hung them both up to dry. And here's what I ended up with.

No, I wasn't intentionally going for a Christmas theme here. :)

I'm really pleased with the red. It's a bit darker, which is what I wanted rather than a bright red. It almost has a hint of orange to it. I'll probably use this to knit up a hat or cowl or something this fall.

I'm not as happy with the green. It's pretty, and it lightened up quite a bit by the end, but I just don't see myself knitting anything in this color. So I might try to overdye it sometime with another color, like blue. We'll see. :)

So...I think I'm hooked on dyeing with Kool-Aid! I bought some different flavors yesterday and another skein of white yarn, which I'm going to divide into sections so I can test all of the other flavors. :) This was so easy, and so much fun. The end colors are very bright, and you could easily make a rainbow with the flavors. Also, you can mix them up and get stripes or a hand-painted yarn look. I'm really looking forward to trying that!
Have you ever dyed yarn before?

Until next time,

1 comment:

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