A Good Day to Dye - Using Kool-Aid to Dye Yarn With Jess and Jenny

Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Silk, Cream (55% Super Fine Alpaca, 23% Silk, 22% Merino Wool)
Amount Dyed: 2 skeins (192 yds / 100g / 3.5 oz)
Dye: Black Cherry (5 packages), Blue Moon Berry (3 packages)

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, Natural (100% Peruvian Wool)
Amount Dyed: 2 skeins (440 yds / 200g / 7 oz)
Dye: Mango (3 packages), Orange (1 package), Ice Cool Arctic Green Apple (1 package).

Notes: Presenting... A photo essay on the subject of dyeing yarn with kool-aid:

kool collection
We bought what can only be referred to as a crapload of kool-aid. Unfortunately, we were missing some of the kolors Jenny wanted to use, so we still ran short on oranges / peaches.

We diluted the kool-aid with a few tablespoons of water and a dropperful of vinegar (even though we knew kool-aid is probably acidic enough on its own, we're into good measure). Then we used plastic droppers to paint the yarn in the bathtub, as Jenny is demonstrating above.

We then carefully removed the yarn from the tub into a container to transport to the stove for steaming.

This is my yarn. It truly looks like a bizarre and bloody piece of meat. To get vibrant color with kool-aid, most tutorials say you need to use lots of dye and little dilution, so I ended up using 8 packets for 3.5 oz, about twice the number recommended for single-color dyeing on knitty's tutorial.

Here's a paparazzi shot of my yarn in the steambath. Hot! We steamed each batch for about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, we had some iced tea, talked on the phone, and went out for a slice from Pino's.

When the yarn finished steaming, we washed both skeins in warm water with Woolite in the bathtub, rinsed well, and hung to dry. Then we watched Manhattan and sat around on the couch for the rest of the day. Oh, and we knitted some bunnies.

The results are, as you can see, above. I love the springiness of Jenny's batch. I propose "Papaya" as a name for Jenny's colourway, and "Scarlet Bluebell" for mine. Alternatively, we could call mine "Bruises and Wounds."

A word about the yarns: both took dye extremely well. The Peruvian Wool is made to be dyed, and despite our using a rather skimpy amount of kool-aid for so much yarn (though Jenny wanted some natural sections left), dyed pretty vibrantly, more so than the photo shows.

My Andean Silk batch was made as an experiment to decide whether this yarn, if hand-dyed, would be suitable for Clapotis. My conclusion is that it definitely would be. Although it's not the beautiful single-ply of the original Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb, the finished product turned out much less fuzzy than I expected (and less fuzzy than the original skein), and has a smoothness and drape that would lend itself to the pattern. Sadly, KnitPicks seems to be cleaned out of the Cream Andean Silk, so I can't run there to order more right away, but I assume they'll get more in eventually.

Here's a swatch of the Andean Silk:

That photo's a little truer to color, see below...

Question for you: Since my camera seems to give everything in natural light on cloudy days a blue tint, the red/blue yarn is not quite as bright in the photo as it is in person. I'd like to mute/darken it a bit. Do you think it would be possible / advisable to overdye the yarn in a weak blue to deepen the colors in this way? Would I just use the same stovetop method as is recommended in all the tutorials?

Related Entries:
Resources for Hand-Dyeing Yarn

Posted by jess at March 20, 2005 11:17 AM

Wow! This is great! Your colorways are beautiful. I can't wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Suzanne at March 20, 2005 12:28 PM

I KNEW there was a reason I wouldn't let my kids drink that stuff. At least there's some good use it can be put to.

Posted by: sara at March 20, 2005 11:53 PM

I just dyed some yarn a few weeks ago, and didn't like how much natural yarn was left, so i overdyed it with a lighter shade, to make the yarn more monochromatic. It worked really well, but i don't know how it would work on your yarn since the colour is so strong. I guess you can try, and keep trying until you get a colour you like. I think eventually yarn will stop absorbing dye, but you might as well experiment anyway.

Good luck

Posted by: Sarah at March 21, 2005 11:21 AM

I don't know if you still even read comments on an entry this old, but I was wondering if there was any other way to set the dye for such a large batch, as I do not have a big steamer like that. Would steam melt a plastic colander? Or could I balance a metal one on top of a pot?

Thank you! And awesome job with the yarns.

Posted by: lindsay at August 2, 2005 6:23 PM

It worked really well, but i don't know how it would work on your yarn since the colour is so strong

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