Hand Dyed Yarn with Kool Aid
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In my house, a good project always starts with a great cup of coffee. Today, I’m fully caffeinated on dulce de leche lattes with a box of bare wool yarn, and a bag Kool Aid packets luring me to play with it.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve scoured the internet for all the different hand dyed yarn methods. The methods range from professional dye to Kool Aid to natural/plant-based dye. The colorways hop around from solid, speckled, self stripping, and a combination of all three. Then, there’s how to set the dye with heat. Do you use the oven, microwave, or crockpot?
After searching through all the different methods I settled on Kool Aid drink packets, plastic wrap and the microwave. Therefore, I could create a semi solid and partially speckled dye lot. Therefore, the best of both colorways!
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Why I chose Kool Aid Packets
- Affordable – If I mess up the dye, and the yarn looks awful, I’m not out tons of $$$.
- Food Safe – This means I can use the current kitchen tools I cook with, and Owen can get in on the action. Any time I can, I like to include him in my business. He created the multi-red hank, and I’ll make something special with it for him!
- Smells Amazing – The smell is like childhood! It adds to the fun and creativity of the whole project.
- Bare wool yarn *animal/protein yarns will only work with the Kool Aid dye process*
- Kool Aid powder packets *I bought this variety pack*
- Plastic wrap
- Zip ties
- Distilled white vinegar
- Plastic Gloves *I didn’t use them, but I was careful while dying*
- Squirt bottle
- Old towel
PREPARE THE YARN
Attach a zip tie where the yarn holding the hank together is located. This helps handle the yarn while dyeing, and prevent your hands turning into a rainbow. Soak the yarn in extra warm water with a few tablespoons of white distilled vinegar for at least 30 minutes. This gradually raises the temperature of the yarn to prevent felting. The white vinegar helps set the dye color. After the 30 minutes, gently squeeze out the water to leave the yarn damp, but not dripping. Do this as gently as possible to prevent felting.
SET UP THE WORKSPACE
Lay out the plastic wrap on a long surface (kitchen table or counter top). Make it long and wide enough to wrap the yarn up when it’s time to microwave it. After the yarn is done soaking, lay the damp yarn on the plastic wrap.
Next, set up your colors. I diluted partial packets in about 16 oz of water (2 cups). The higher concentrated the dye, the darker the color will turn out. I put the first color I wanted to dye with into the squirt bottle. Between colors, be sure to rinse it out with water. The squirt bottle gives precision to placing the color rather than pouring it onto the yarn.
Water Saving Tip — Use the leftover water from soaking the yarn to mix up the liquid dyes.
READY TO DYE
Now, you’re ready to start adding color—the fun part! This is truly up to your artistic design. I wanted large blocks of green, blue, and yellow with the natural yarn color in between. Be aware that the dye will spread. Therefore, leave a little space between color changes if you don’t want them to bleed together. Use a fork to spread the yarn out to dye the underside. I found that picking up the hank with the zip tie was the easiest way to turn the yarn over. After I dyed the large blocks of color, I used the leftover dry packets to sprinkle dye on top of the yarn. This gives the yarn that gorgeous speckled look!
In these photos, I let Owen go at it all on his own! He picked his colors, and placed the dye where he wanted. Then, he proceeded to put the bottle in his mouth. Another great reason why I chose this food safe method of dyeing!
SET THE DYE
Once you’re done dying, wrap up your hank in plastic wrap. Fold it into thirds (or however it fits best in your microwave), and carefully transfer it into the microwave. The old towel comes in handy at this part. I used it to carry my wet yarn bundle to the microwave to prevent spills. Do not microwave the towel. Microwave the yarn on High for 1 Minute. Check to make sure all the yarn is heated through, and let it rest for 1 Minute in the microwave. Afterwards, microwave for another minute. Then, let it cool completely.
If there is water coming out of the yarn, it should be clear! This is how you know the yarn has accepted the dye.
FINISHING & DRYING THE YARN
After the yarn has completely cooled, gently rinse it in warm soapy water until it runs clear. I used a small squirt of dish soap. Laundry detergent would work well, too. Next, rinse it out in warm water. Gently squeeze the excess water out, and hang to dry completely!
Now, you’re down! Wind that gorgeous hand dyed yarn into a ball and make into something lovely!
Did you try your own hand dyed yarn with Kool Aid? I’d love to see it! Tag me on Instagram with a picture of your final product and use the hashtag #HDYhanddyedyarn .
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Here are links to all the great websites that guided this process for me.
(I’m not affiliated with these blogs, but wanted to share the wonderful information I learned from them!)
Fiber Artsy – Dyeing Wool Yarn with Speckles
Shiny Happy World – How to Kool Aid Dye Yarn Tips
Knitty – Kool Aid Dyed Yarn Swatches
Meg Made With Love – Paint Dyed Yarn with Kool Aid