Friday, March 19, 2010

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn

Last night I dyed up some yarn. I just started doing this last year when Tracy showed me the way, and have had so much fun with it. I like to use Kool Aid or food coloring because I work in my kitchen, and this way I don't have to worry about toxins. I'll tell you a little about how I did it last night, but if you really want a good tutorial you can find one here on

I started with Knitpicks Bare superwash sock yarn, but you can also start with any yarn that is high in animal fiber content...the higher the better! I've used yarn from my stash and dyed over lighter colors I wasn't crazy about with good results. I left my yarn in the skein it came in because I was lazy last night, but if you want longer repeats you can reskein it into a much longer skein. Put the skein in a tub of water to soak. Let the fibers really soak for a good while (go watch some TV and knit!). You want all the air out so it will take up the dye nicely. When the yarn is good and wet, gently squeeze the extra water out so you can transport it to your bowls.

Next, I boiled up a big pot of water and poured boiling water into 3 bowls. I dissolved 3 packs of unsweetened Kool Aid to each bowl and immediately draped the yarn into the bowls. If you are using kool aid there is enough citric acid that you really don't have to use vinegar, but I added a splash to each bowl anyway...never hurts. I want that color to stay! Move the yarn around a little with spoon so it all gets a chance to soak up the dye. Pretty quickly I shifted the yarn so the white parts were dyed too. If you feel your water cooled too much, you can wrap your yarn in saran and microwave it 2 minutes to make sure the heat has set the dye. My water was still extremely hot after the yarn soaked up the dye, so I didn't bother.

You can see here that the yarn has taken up all the dye and the water is clear again.

Let it cool a bit in the sink and then rinse. I like to add a little dish soap and give it a light wash at this point. No dye came out at all, so I knew the dye was set well. Then squeeze the extra water out gently (you don't want to felt it!) and put it in a towel to blot the extra water out.

Finally, hang it up to dry......and in the morning you have some nice new colors to work with!

There are all sorts of variations on the can dye in pots on the stove, handpaint and then microwave, or even use a crock pot. Fun!


Susan Rudat said...

This is amazing! It's really kool-aid and the dye really sets?

pedalpower said...

Hi Susan! Yes, it really is Kool Aid and the dye sets very nicely! It's amazing the colors you can get with those little drink mixes! thanks for stopping by my blog...I love your work.

chidori said...

I saw this idea a long time ago in Melanie Falick's book "Kids Knitting," and I've always wanted to try it. I'm so happy to see that you've done it--or something similar!--and it turned out so well. Your yarn looks just lovely and the colors are so vibrant. It makes me excited to pull out my knitting. I'm sold! I'm ready to do some space-dyeing now ...

And thank you for visiting and leaving such encouraging comments. I was feeling like such a lone crafter, lurking the occasional blog, and I finally realized I ought to start participating in the online craft community because there were so many other people out there like me. I hope you'll check in again when I have new crafts up! Peace!