Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn Tutorial


When I was a kid, nothing said summer like a tall, strong glass of Kool-Aid.

Grape was always my variety of choice. That intense fake grape flavor with a few ice cubes clinking around in the glass...oh man. Bring on the purple mustache.

But did you know, since Kool-Aid is actually colored with all synthetic dyes, you can use it to [very easily] dye yarn and other natural fibers? You don't even need to add anything to make the dye colorfast, it's acidic enough on its own. It actually dyes so well that it makes me feel strange that I used to drink the stuff. And bonus - it makes your yarn smell like it was marinated in liquid Starbust.



caffeine free, oh good

You could do all one color, but since it's so easy, it's really fun to play around with several different flavors and see what happens when they mix. To make the yarn in the picture all you need is some natural undyed 100% wool yarn [acrylic won't work], 5 different packets of Kool-Aid [make sure you get the unsweetened kind], a pyrex dish and a microwave.


The yarn I used was Knit Picks Bare 100% Peruvian Wool:


There are tutorials a'plenty on this subject all across the internet, but since I did a little batch of my own dyeing a few weeks ago, I thought I'd throw my two cents in. So here's what I did:

UPDATE: If you'd like to see what this yarn looks like knitted, here are some pictures.

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn [variegated colors] 
Materials:
100% wool yarn
1 packet each of unsweetened cherry, orange, grape, lemonade & black cherry Kool-Aid
Pyrex dish - 8" square or loaf size work well
tap water
microwave
collander

1. If your yarn is in a ball, rewrap it into a big open skein, like in the first picture of the post. You can do this by looping it around your arm or the back of a chair.
2. Fill the Pyrex dish with a few inches of water. Add the cherry Kool-Aid and mix until dissolved.


3. Put the dish in the microwave. Place one end of the skein of yarn into the Kool-Aid water, squishing it down a little. Let the rest of the skein hang out on the floor of the microwave.

4. Microwave for 5 minutes or so, stirring every minute to make sure the yarn isn't floating. You'll know the yarn is done when all the dye has been absorbed and the Kool-Aid water becomes clear.


5. Carefully remove the dish and yarn [it's hot!] and dump into a collander in the sink. Rinse the yarn with warm water a little bit until it's cool enough to touch.

6. Now mix up the next color in the dish [I used orange]. Put it back in the microwave. Submerge the next section of the yarn skein into the Kool-Aid, letting the red end and undyed end hang out over either edge. Microwave for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute.


[NOTE: At this point the yarn will act as a wick and suck some of the water out of the dish and into the bottom of your microwave. It's not that hard to clean up, since there is no sugar, but make sure you use junk towels to clean up because they'll probably get Kool-aid stained.]


7. Repeat for the two remaining colors [I did grape, then lemonade]. If you want at the very end, you can submerge the entire skein into a single color to change the overall look. I used 1/2 packet of black cherry over the whole thing to temper the colors and 'unite' them more.

8. Rinse the yarn until the water runs clear. Place it in a towel and gently push the towel to soak up some of the water. Hang the skein up to dry.

25 comments:

  1. That's so clever, I love how the colors turned out!

    http://chicgeekery.blogspot.com/

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  2. love it! I hope you make something out of it, I wonder how it will look knitted.

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  3. This is such a good idea! I can't wait to try it.

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  4. Irresistible!! What a great idea for those .2o pkgs of Kool-Aid. I grew up on the stuff too--watered down of course.

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  5. We had a Choo Choo Cherry in Florida ;)

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  6. Steph - I'm wondering the same thing, I just cast on a hat and I'm definitely going to post pictures when it's done!

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  7. I hadn't thought about it all knit up, but very valid point; I look forward to the pictures :)

    I saw this on pinterest but haven't tried it yet. I love knowing that someone else has tried it -- and your illustrations are adorable! hehe. Can't wait to see your hat :)

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  8. Yet another amazingly versatile food product that the UK is missing :( May just have to hit eBay and go searching for some!!

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  9. michelle - maybe there is something comparable there? as long as it has artificial dye in it it's worth playing around with!

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  10. I was wondering, do you know if this would work with 100% cotton yarn?

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  11. nell, i believe that the kool-aid binds to the proteins in animal fibers and that's what makes the colors come out so vividly. it will only dye cotton a pale color and it will not be very colorfast. at least that's what it seems after doing a few internet searches. but if you try it let me know the results, i'm curious too! :]

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  12. I am definitely going to try it tomorrow! I bought a rainbow's worth of Kool-aid and some more white cotton yarn earlier. Now I just have to find a glass dish that will fit in my little microwave. I make a lot of amigurumi guys and cotton gives the stitches such a nice crisp look. I'd love to be able to add my own touch of color on top of it!

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  13. you could use a glass measuring cup. as long as it's microwave safe and can fit the amount of yarn you want to dye with a little wiggle room for water flow, you should be good to go.

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    Replies
    1. That's brilliant! I'm going to go do that as soon as I finish dying my hair! (I'm going to be a dying machine today!)

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  14. What a great way of sharing the how-to
    Nice ~

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  15. It's gorgeous! I really do feel like getting some wool yarn and kool aid right now! It is rather strange that it's colorfast yet came from a consumable item... haha

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    Replies
    1. i know, right? i feel weird that i used to drink it!

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    2. why would it be strange? It is full of lab created chemicals. I am going to have to find a way to make this yarn without a microwave.

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  16. So awesome. i plan on finger knitting mine and using that as apart of a diy rug that i also found, but do the colors ever bleed I'm worried about staining my actual carpet.

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    1. i haven't had any experience with the koolaid colors bleeding, but i haven't ever made it into a rug. it's probably not going to get wet though, right? you should be ok. if you're really worried i would make a little sample and test it on an inconspicuous part of your carpet if you have it, like inside a closet maybe, or under your couch.

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  17. very cool idea! I'm wondering how this would stand up to a trip through the washing machine... have you tried washing anything made with your KoolAid yarn?

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  18. Would that not be a fire hazard...?

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