Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Experimenting with Color: Kool-Aid Edition

A few months ago, I was in my local St. Vincent DePaul. While there, I checked the craft section for some sewing notions but instead of finding zippers and buttons I scored a HUGE lot of undyed 100% wool, each skein was $.79 and there were seven skeins ! HUGE yarn score!  I knew right away that I would attempt to hand dye some wool and Kool-Aid would be my dye of choice.

I next had to figure out what I was going to do with this yarn, I knew I would dye it but what knitting pattern would I use?  I finally decided to knit Christmas stockings for my family. I found this pattern ( Here's the link too.

Next I needed to start thinking about color since the yarn was undyed. I did a quick google search for "how to dye yarn" and this was the first link I came to ( I'm a big fan of bright colors and I'm not going for a traditional stocking look. I want something a bit different. So I decided to use regular everyday colors instead of the usual green and red.

Based on the chart provided in the directions, I chose a few colors (flavors) and headed to the store in search of Kool-Aid. I came away with packets to make orange, pink, teal and red.

Tuesday night was then deemed Kool-Aid party night. A few of my knitting friends came over to see the process and to keep me company.

Before the dying started, the yarn needed to be soaked, I gave it a bath in a big bowl with a few drops of laundry detergent and let it sit for a good twenty to thirty minutes. This process rinsed the fibers and got rid of a LOT of dirt and oils.

I then rinsed the yarn with room temperature tap water and I gently squeezed the excess water from the yarn. It was now time to dye! I started with orange since Max requested that his stocking be his favorite color. Preparing the dye is quite easy, basically 1 packet of Kool-Aid to each ounce of wool. My skeins were three oz skeins. I emptied the contents of three packets into a Pyrex dish, added some water to dissolve the Kool-Aid, placed my yarn into the dish and added a bit more water to cover the yarn. Following the directions, I microwaved my yarn in the dye for two minutes, let the yarn rest, swished it around a bit and cooked it for 2 more minutes and let it cool. I let all the yarn hang out in their Pyrex dishes until the end. As you can see in the photos below, the dye is QUITE bright prior to submerging the yarn. The dye is then absorbed by the fibers leaving a semi-clear water behind.

The dye is then absorbed by the fibers leaving a semi-clear water behind.

I then rinsed and gently squeezed the excess water out again and hung them to dry in the basement.

I'm happy with how each of the colors turned out. The red is QUITE bright! It took two extra cooking sessions to secure the dye in the yarn and the water never quite cleared like the others. Overall, it was a really fun project although slightly messy... I've come away with some awesome colors of yarn and two bright red hands.

More photos of the process can be found here (