Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cool Kool-Aid Yarn Dyeing

Ages ago I bought some undyed sock yarn from a nice vendor on eBay. My quest: to dye yarn to create "unique" socks. Not so long ago I was totally engrossed by the self-striping yarns; but slowly -- oh, so slowly -- they all started to look alike to me. Bold patterns and bold colors do make for interesting socks, but I'm now more interested in using color in a more subtle, artistic way.

Not that I'm artistic, you understand. The closest I'd ever come to being an "artist" was messing with those "paint by number" sets as a kid.

So for my first effort at dyeing wool: My medium? Kool-Aid of course! I can hardly take myself too seriously if I use the drink of kid-dom. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my family partook of it. Hi-C was the sugary beverage in my house.

Now, how to choose? Kool-Aid comes in such a variety of flavors.... and colors. There are websites and blog pages that describe both the process dyeing with KA and the colors that you could achieve using specific flavors. Woolworks.org and Knitty.com have a good amount of info for the newbie dyer. And this site has a neat color chart!

So here's my first dye job: I used 10 grams of sock yarn and 1 packet of Slammin' Strawberry Kiwi Kool Aid UNSWEETENED. The yarn was wound into a ball and soaked in water for about 20 minutes. I first diluted the Kool-Aid with a little warm water, added hot water to a mason jar, poured the KA liquid in, and added the soaked ball of yarn after gently squeezing out the excess water in it. I placed the lid on the jar and set it out in the sun while I went to the cat shelter for a while. When I got back a couple hours later, all of the color from the liquid was now in the yarn ball and the surrounding liquid was a milky white -- WAY COOL!!



I rinsed the fruity yarn ball, wound the dripping yarn around my bent elbow and hand to make a skein, and blotted out the excess water out of the skein by rolling it in a towel. I then draped the skein on a hanger and hung it in the shower stall to dry. Here's a picture of it dried......










And here's how it looks rewound into a ball. I'm hoping that I have enough here to knit the heels of a pair of socks I'm working on. I think this pinky coral is a perfect match with a color in the Trekking XXL yarn I've used.






It's interesting how the skein sucked up the dye. Even though the yarn was totally saturated before placing in the dye, the surfaces closest to the dye liquid pulled in the most dye.

Was it a fluke? I tried again with Lemonade KA.

Same technique.....Virtually the same results.












More experimentation is warranted. I have Black Cherry, Orange, Cherry, and Swirlin' Strawberry Starfruit waiting in my pantry. And the grocery store is only about a mile away ---
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Sock yarns usually are a combination of wool and some other fibre (cotton or synthetic). Kool-aid will only work on animal fibres (like wool, alpaca etc), and not on cotton or synthetic fibres. So if you are dying "sock yarn" with kool-aid, you WILL get uneven dying because the non-wool fibres in the sock yarn will not dye.
 
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