Monday, June 06, 2005

I've been "dyeing" to try this.

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist on the title. Beware, there are lots of photos below.

Shortly after learning to knit, I found knitting blogs and began trolling around anonymously. On one of these early trolling missions (when I should have been studying Contracts or Property, no doubt), I read about dyeing yarn with Kool Aid. I've always been infatuated with the concept, but never tried it myself, until yesterday. I found some great resources online and went to work.

First, I acquired the supplies. Fisherman's Wool, Pyrex, plastic squirt bottles from a beauty supply store, and, of course, various flavors of Kool Aid gathered from my grocery store, the grocery store in my parent's town, and the very back of my parent's cabinets.
Dyeing Supplies

Next, I wound the wool into 25-60 yard hanks and secured them in various places. (I used the bed posts on a daybed in my guest room to do this. This was the worst part of the whole process.) The yarn was washed in a sink full of lukewarm water and Woolite, and then rinsed. Meanwhile, I prepared the "dye". I mixed the dye into very concentrated solutions of water and vinegar (just in case it wasn't acidic enough). I pretty much dissolved as much powder as possible into 8 oz. of liquid.
The yarn was put onto my cookie cooling rack, and I got to work.
Yarn ready to dye.
Dyed yarn
Notice the drop cloth on the kitchen floor. This made for very easy clean up. Unfortuanately, I also managed to dye the bottoms of my feet. But a day at the pool solved that. Each hank was then wrapped in Saran Wrap, and then placed in the microwave for 2 minute intervals (I'd say 8-10 minutes total). The yarn was then removed (and it was steaming hot), allowed to cool, and then rinsed. Imagine my surprise when no dye came running out of the yarn as it rinsed. Next, it was hung up to dry in my kitchen window.
Drying.

The finished skeins.
Ready to wind.

I am completely impressed with the rich tone of the reds. Most of these colors were achieved by mixing various packages of kool aid together. However, I found that strawberry makes one of the richest colors of all. I was also amazed to discover that the yarn doesn't have a distinctive fruit scent, and it actually smells better than the wool did to begin with.

Initial impressions: This is a great project to do with kids. This would also be a fabulous project for a nice summer day outside. Just lay down a drop cloth, put on some rubber gloves and go to town. I spent a good portion of my summers as a teenager tie-dyeing in my backyard. I'm surprised that my parents patio, deck, and grass ever recovered. However, I used expensive dyes from the art store, and never considered using Kool Aid.

Next, I am going to wind it up (probably just into a ball), and then knit and felt swatches to give it the true test. Stay tuned... Oh, and I will never step into another grocery store, anywhere, without checking to see which Kool Aid flavors they carry. But, I really must stop myself, because I could see this being extremely addictive.

Kool Aid Dyeing resources:
A basic tutorial(notice they say to use one packet to 8 oz of liquid; I probably used upwards of 5 packets per 8 oz of liquid for the reds.)
A Color Chart.
A great article at Knitty..
A how to at Knitters Review.

There are also great threads on both Knitters Review and Craftster. Other than that, if you google, you will find.

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