Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Great Kool-Aid Dyeing Adventure

As promised, here’s the information about my Kool-Aid yarn dyeing experiment. All in all it went well and I’m happy with the final results. Photography is not my best thing so I apologize for some of the slightly blurry images. And the colours are not quite as acid bright as the pictures seem to indicate.

In order to dye yarn, it must first be in a skein, tied loosely in a few places to prevent tangling. I used Bare Stroll Sock Yarn which came in a hank, tied in two places. Just for insurance I added two addition ties. These ties need to be loose to ensure the dye can get to all the yarn.

The first step is to soak the yarn in a basin of lukewarm water for about 30 minutes to ensure that it is thoroughly wet throughout. Because this yarn was brand new and meant to be dyed, I skipped the washing step for the first batch that I dyed green. In hindsight, that was a bad idea. I did gently wash the second batch and the colour was more evenly distributed.



Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid:


While the yarn soaked, I added 3 envelopes of Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid to 2 cups of hot tap water and stirred it to dissolve the powder. I let it stand to make sure all the powder was completely dissolved while I patiently waited. The ratio of Kool-Aid to yarn suggested on several websites is 1 package per ounce of yarn. My skein was 3.5 oz so I started with 3 packages.

When the yarn soaking time was up, I added the Kool-Aid mixture to the 6 cups of lukewarm water standing by in the crockpot. I lifted the soaked yarn gently out of its bath, squishing out as much water as possible with my hands down the length of the skein. Treat it gently and try not to get it tangled.
Kool-Aid disolved in hot water.
Did a colour test on a piece of paper towel.
Dye Bath in the Crockpot
I lowered the squished out hank slowly into the crockpot and said a prayer! I swished it around VERY gently to make sure the dye was reaching all the yarn. Interestingly, the dye bath exhausted within about 2 minutes, meaning all they dye had been absorbed into the yarn. Hmmmm that wasn’t supposed to happen so quickly. And there were some spots that were still almost white. Hmmmmmm that wasn’t supposed to happen either. I mixed up another packet of Kook-Aid and added it to the water and again, almost instant exhaustion. Now what? The water hadn’t even heated up at this point.

This was shortly after I put the yarn in the pot.
You can see that the dye is exhausted. The water is clear
and all the dye absorbed. You can also see the white patches.

I turned the crockpot on high and left it for 30 minutes because I had a feeling the heat was required to set the dye. Not sure if that was the case or not but I did it anyway. I then did an addition 30 minutes on low before turning off the pot and left it to cool down to room (I actually left it overnight).

I lifted the yarn out of the pot and put it in a basin of lukewarm water to rinse. Swished it a bit, dumped out the water and added clean water and swished again. There was no dye released in either rinse.

I took the yarn out of the rinse water, squishing the water out with my hands down the length of the skein as I did so. I then laid it on a huge bath sheet, rolled it up gently and squished out as much water as possible by walking on the rolled up towel.

I hung the yarn over a plastic coat hanger and hung it in the bathroom over the tub to dry. There are still some very light patches in the yarn but it will still make nice socks or a shawl I think.

Yarn drying. You can see the white patches.
Close-up showing the undyed parts.
The finished ball of yarn :-)








Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade Kool-Aid:


I did everything pretty much as outlined above but this time added some “Soak” to the water in which the yarn was soaking and "squitched" it a bit. I had read that adding a bit of liquid dish detergent to the water helps to break that surface tension of the water which helps the yarn to thoroughly soak up the water. Although “Soak” does not require rinsing, I rinsed the yarn a couple of times anyway (just in case) before putting it in the dye pot. Although again, the dye exhausted very rapidly, there was a much more even distribution. I can only attribute this to the addition of the “Soak”. I have since read that adding salt to the dye bath will slow down the absorption of the dye to create a more solidly dyed yarn. My blue yarn is somewhat mottled but definitely no white areas.

Colour is more evenly distributed this time.

It seems I forgot to take a photo of the completed ball of blue yarn so you will have to use your imagination. :-)

There are loads of resources on the internet for dyeing with Kool-Aid. You can find some great information at this Ravelry Group. In addition, Knitty has a good tutorial which includes a really useful chart of the colours you can expect with various flavours of Kool-Aid.

I highly recommend you try this. It's loads of fun. Just be cautious of getting Kool-Aid powder on your hands. I had "smurf" hands when I accidentally spilled some of the blue powder. Ooops! A couple of drops of bleach with some hand soap cleared it up.

Have fun!
Barb

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