For my first blog entry I thought I’d share my recent venture into hand-dyeing yarn. I did some reading about dyeing with Kool-aid and decided it would be a good method for my first go. Eventually I plan to get set up with proper acid dyes but in the meantime Kool-aid is very low cost and food-safe, so you don’t need dedicated containers or tools. There are many good tutorials available online about Kool-aid dyeing, but this is how I did it.
I started with two skeins of lovely, super soft Malagbrigo Lace merino wool, and an assortment of Kool-aid packets in various flavours.
The Merino sheep is regarded as having the finest and softest wool of any sheep, so this was pretty good stuff I was experimenting on. Jump in with both feet, I say!
Step 1: Give the yarn a good soak in cool water. Untwist the skein, but leave it in a big loop. If there are short pieces tying it together leave them in place, to keep it from getting tangled, but make sure they’re loose enough for the dye to reach all the fibres. Now, mix up the Kool-aid in water. There are guidelines about how much Kool-aid to use per ounce of yarn, but I must admit I didn’t really pay attention to them. I used six small plastic containers and mixed Lime in two of them and Ice-Blue Raspberry Lemonade in two others, with different amounts of water for more or less colour saturation. In the other two containers I mixed both flavours together. Dip the yarn into the containers.
Step 2: I had the containers on the glass tray of the microwave, which made it easy to transfer the whole tray into the microwave with the containers on it. I zapped it for about a minute, let it cool for a few minutes, and repeated that a few times.
Step 3: Remove from the microwave and rotate the yarn, so the undyed (white) areas that were in between the separate containers are now submerged. In the photo on the left, you can see I rotated the skein a few inches clockwise. You can get some really cool effects here, where the colours blend into each other. Repeat the zapping/cooling process.
Step 4: After the yarn has cooled down, give it a rinse in cold water, then hang to dry.
(I should mention: hot water + natural fibres + aggitation = felt. In other words, when heating the yarn to set the dyes don’t move it around, or you’ll end up with the strands felted together. When you rinse use cool water and, in general, avoid any sudden changes in temperature.)
Here’s the result: the blue/green skein, as well as a Strawberry/Tropical Punch pinky-red one. Ta-da! It’s pretty amazing what you can do with a 39 cent packet of Kool-aid!