Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yarn Dyeing with Powdered Juice Drinks

I have long wanted to experiment with doing my own yarn dyeing. I had the chance to give it a try this weekend thanks to a few lucky thrift store finds. Both the yarns I got were old and the color just slightly off from what it had once been. Luckily, neither had moth holes or other moth damage, and both were 100% wool.

Kool-aid dyeing is simple... one package of kool-aid per ounce of yarn (to saturate, that is). The drink is acidic enough that no additional acid is needed, and you don't even need that much heat to set the dye.

My first attempt was with a pale yellow worsted weight wool, about three ounces, and some orange kool-aid. I decided both experiments were going to be monochromatic, but I wanted something unique. The yarn was already in a long skein, so I tied it in a few places and I was ready to go!

I mixed up the kool-aid in a large pan (2 quarts of water, 1 package kool-aid, no sugar, of course). I only used one package because I still wanted a fair amount of the original color to show through, with a bit of perking up. Then I put the pan on the stove on low heat.

I submerged about 1/4 of the yarn and waited 15 minutes, submerged another 1/4, etc. until the whole thing was submerged. Another 15 minutes, and the water was completely clear, all dye absorbed. I then rinsed the yarn in cold water and hung it to dry.

The process with the second skein was similar (moved to my mom's house for this one, though). I had one ounce of lace-weight pastel pink wool, which I wound into a long skein (about 1.5 yards in length) and tied with thread. The dye was Disney Cool Splashers mix in strawberry flavor. I wanted a more uniform gradient on this one, so I submerged two-inch sections every five minutes. Because I had a smaller amount of wool, all the dye didn't get absorbed, but a fair bit did!

Anyway, this technique is really easy and fun, and you can get all kinds of different results by using tye-die techniques, using squirt bottles to paint stripes on the yarn, etc. It's pretty fool-proof, and I'd be glad to answer any questions. As soon as my yarn dries I'll take pictures of the finished balls and whatever projects they eventually become. Yay!
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