Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kool-aid Dying

Kool-aid dying is great for those who wish to experiment with dying yarn or fiber but don't want the complexity usually associated with natural or commercial dyes. Granted, you are limited to reds, orange, purples, and green, but those colors are vibrant.

Your materials:
• Unsweetened Kool-aid. I used Cherry for this example.
• Yarn made from animal fibers. Sheep's wool, alpaca, silk, llama, camel... My example is silk. Plant fibers don't take dye well and generally won't take the color from Kool-aid at all.
• Big cooking pot.
• Measuring cup.
• Spoon. I prefer to use a wooden one.
• A stove.
• Tap water.

Doing it:
1. If you haven't already, wind your yarn into a hank and tie it loosely in 2 or 3 places. I used a niddy-noddy, but you can use your arm or the back of a chair as well.
2. In the big cooking pot, mix up the Kool-aid according to the directions but omitting the sugar.
3. Soak your yarn (or fiber) in water and get it thoroughly wet. This is important since it helps the yarn to more thoroughly and evenly absorb the color from the Kool-aid.
4. Place your yarn in the pot with the Kool-aid, moving it around until it is saturated.
5. Put the pot with the Kool-aid and yarn in it on the stove and set the temperature at medium-high to high.
6. Let it heat up, stirring occasionally to help the yarn take the color evenly.
7. When the water begins to boil, turn off the heat, remove the pot from the stove, remove the yarn, and dump the Kool-aid. It will either run clear or almost clear of color. This means all or most of the color was absorbed by the yarn.
8. Rinse the yarn in hot water and gradually cooler water. This will remove the excess Kool-aid and gently cool down the yarn without shocking the fiber.
9. Gently squeeze out excess water and hang the yarn up to dry.

No fixative is needed since Kool-aid contains enough acid to set the color during the dying process.

Experiment!
• Mix colors. When you mix red and green you will get brown. Mix cherry and grape and you'll get a different color than if you mix strawberry and grape.
• Try it on different colors of fiber. Even browns and grays. The natural colors will add earthiness to the vibrant Kool-aid colors.
• For darker colors use more Kool-aid and less yarn or fiber. For lighter colors use less Kool-aid and more yarn. In other words, adjust your ratios. One batch of Kool-aid with one ounce of yarn will give you more saturated color than one batch of Kool-aid and four ounces of yarn.
• Try a yarn with a mixture of plant and animal fibers such as a cotton/silk blend. The cotton won't take the color and the silk will. This could give you an interesting visual texture.

Most of all, have fun!!!

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