Tag: Kool Aid

I don’t want to dye alone….

©Shireen Nadir 2013

Last Sunday, myself and my favourite likeminded nerdy girls held the much-anticipated ‘dying party’ at our (subsequently trashed) condo.

©Shireen Nadir 2013

Rayna and Leslie came over bearing bearing armfuls of fibre and edibles, (Tito retreated to the bedroom with the computer and headphones), and we did our best to make the apartment look like a herd of unicorns had thrown a rambunctious party, drank to excess, and thrown up all over it.

©Shireen Nadir 2013

We had 3 skeins of yarn each to play with – the Cascade 220 sport was only 164 yards, and we used it to get our feet wet by hand painting with Kool-aid.

Our technique, for those interested, was very basic:

  • Lay down plastic
  • Lay pre-soaked yarn on top of plastic
  • Mix different colours of Kool-aid with about 1/3 cup of water each
  • Pour/paint/smear Kool-aid on top of yarn
  • Wrap plastic around yarn
  • Punch holes in the plastic so it doesn’t explode (I forgot this bit once; it was messy)
  • Put the entire plastic package in a microwaveable bowl, to catch drippy dye
  • Microwave it a minute at a time (letting it rest between for about a minute) up to 5 minutes or until all the Kool-aid has been absorbed.
  • Carefully remove it, let it cool, remove the plastic and wash it gently in the sink.
  • Parade yarn around the living room like a boss

Here are our Kool-aid creations:

Leslie’s colourway “Hematoma

©Shireen Nadir 2013

Rayna’s as-yet-unnamed colourway

©Shireen Nadir 2013

My colourway, which Tito named “Wow, this looks just like all your other s!@t.”

©Shireen Nadir 2013

You’d think I was predictable….

Next up was the worsted. I purchased huge skeins (271 yards) of wool worsted weight for the RIT dying experiment. The technique was the same as the above, but sub out Kool Aid for RIT and soak the yarn in water with vinegar before starting. The RIT bleeds like heck, so washing it up took a bit longer, but the results are lovely.

Leslie’s colourway, which was given a name so rude I cannot repeat it here.

©Shireen Nadir 2013

Rayna’s colourway, which also was given a name so rude I cannot repeat it here.

©Shireen Nadir 2013

My skein, (of which I was very proud) – was intended to give the impression of the lovely colours of an autumn forest… but apparently only succeeded in being evocative of mozzarella and tomato sauce because Tito named this one  “There are three women in my kitchen and I have to order pizza.“.

©Shireen Nadir 2013

Finally we moved on to the lace-weight merino, which we had been saving for last. Rayna opted to continue with the RIT, resulting in this most impressive skein:

©Shireen Nadir 2013

Leslie and I opted to dive into an herbal dye kit that I picked up at the KW fair a few years ago. It’s a bit more of a process, requiring that the yarn be mordanted before dyeing. We both opted for immersion dyeing in this case. Leslie produced this lovely thing:

©Shireen Nadir 2013

And I produced what certainly became my favourite skein of the day:

©Shireen Nadir 2013

After the girls joked about absconding with it I chose the name “Theft is the greatest form of flattery“.

In between yarns, we dyed some of our inexhaustible supply of fibre, mostly as experiments to learn how a dye behaved before trying it out on the yarn.

©Shireen Nadir 2013

There were lots of jokes about how ‘This is how Tanis and Indigodragonfly got started!’ and even a name for our fantasy dye company: ‘I don’t want to dye alone’. We certainly all felt daunted though, by the idea of trying to come up with a sweaters worth of a consistent colour way.  Even so, we loved it enough that we’re already planning another dye party, with acid dyes this time, and nicer yarn bases!

The Kool-Aid experiment – dying a gradient

Being a designer is tough because it makes you picky. I had experimented with Kool Aid a while back and, while it was fun, I didn’t keep up with it because I had so many ideas in my head and I couldn’t make the yarn match it. I think to really have the skill and control of someone like, say, Tanis, you really have to be a colour expert and dedicate lots of time and energy to it. It’s something I definitely aspire to be better at, but in the meantime Kool Aid is a fun way to get your feet wet!

Dying yarn with Kool Aid

So the challenge I set myself was ‘can I dye a gradient’?. The idea of dying a gradient was inspired by the Little Fair Isle Hat from the Purl Bee. They do a great job with skeins of different colours and I was intrigued by the way the lightest colour just blends into the piece. It turns out it’s very possible to dye a gradient: here’s how I did it.

  1. Get some yarn (easy, right?) and some Kool Aid packets. I used 100% Alpaca from Alpaca Acres here in Ontario – the softest and most luxurious stuff you can imagine :) Natural fibre is important because the dye won’t take on acrylic or other synthetic yarns. For Kool Aid I used 3 packets of Lemon-Lime and one package of… Blue. I think it was called Ice Berry.Dying yarn with Kool Aid
  2. Using a kitchen scale I measured my skein into 10 gram hanks, which I retied very loosely. If you don’t have a scale you can guestimate it – just divide the yarn into 5-6 equal parts.
  3. Pour all the Kool Aid into a pot filled with water, put it on the stove and put all the yarn hanks into it. Start bringing it to a slow simmer. Set a timer for 5 minutes. dying yarn with Kool Aid
  4. After 5 minutes pull out one hank – this will be your lightest one. Set the timer for 5 minutes again. As a guideline, every 5 minutes you’ll take out one more of your mini-skeins. The result was that I had a nice gradient from ones that had been in the shortest time to my last hank – which was in for a full 40 minutes.  I say a guideline only, because you really need to do a visual check to see if enough dye has been absorbed, and adjust your time accordingly.
  5. Wash each skein gently in a mild wool wash or mild soap as it comes out, to wash away excess Kool Aid. I used Soakwash – the patron saint of all my yarn projects :)

dying yarn with Kool Aid

I was very happy with my results, and set about making an adult version of the Little Fair Isle Hat. I cast on the same amount, but on 4.5 mm needles and I added quite a bit of length to it, for a slouchy hat.

dying yarn with Kool Aid

For fun I wound all the leftover yarn together.

dying yarn with Kool Aid

It’s colourfast, even though I didn’t use vinegar to help set it. Apparently Kool Aid is so acidic that you don’t need it.

dying yarn with Kool Aid

I love the results :) Especially on the hat!

dying yarn with Kool Aid

Here is a great tutorial from knitty.com if you want to read more on it, and if you take a crack at dying I’d love to see photos!




Adventures in dying wool (or how to not remind people of Jim Jones)

I needed lots of single serve packets of Kool-Aid – so I could have the most colour variety possible. I went to the Sobeys near my place and loaded up on about 30 single serve packets, in as many different colours as I could get. I took my findings to the cashier, where the person ahead of me in line kept glancing back at my absurd collection. I decided to clarify for him.

Me: I’m dying

Person: You’re What ?!

Me: Yeah, tonight – you can do it with Kool-Aid – did you know that?

If you want to try it yourself here are some basic guidelines (use superwash, natural fibers):

  1. Wash the yarn, and let it soak for about half an hour. Add a cup of vinegar (this helps the Kool-Aid be colourfast)
  2. Put the yarn on the stove and bring it to a very slow simmer. Doing this slowly is key, otherwise you might felt your yarn.
  3. Add the Kool-Aid – either pour the crystals directly into the pot, or mix with a little water to form a concentrated solution and add that to the pot. Needless to say, don’t add sugar ;o)
  4. You can add different colours to different parts of the yarn to produce a varigated yarn, or do the whole thing in one colour.
  5. Let yarn simmer for another half hour or so and then take it off the heat.
  6. When it’s cool, give it a gentle rinse and hang up up overnight to dry.

Here are some pics of my favourite self-dyed pieces =o)

Dying Yarn – Part II

Kool Aid and Food Colouring

Dying Yarn part II involved venturing into food colouring and vinegar instead of just Kool Aid. It’s messier, but the colours are a little more predictable. My goal was to try and match the glaze colours on two mugs that I was hoping to make coseys for and I’m not sure that I succeeded – though I did learn a lot in the process.

We mixed the food colouring in shot glasses ;o)

This was the orange/greenish part

And this was the purple mix. Confident of my success I poured them both into different parts of the pot. Some spots were bare, so I added a little here and there… and then the colours weren’t quite right so I added some more colours and mixes… and the results?

Fugly. Or you could make a pride scarf I suppose. Fugly Pride? Fried? Fried is a good name for this mess.

Take II – this time Tito is involved in an effort to get me to use a more measured approach. Or at least, to not stain the countertops. Here he is mixing up the blue and matching it to the pot.

Here’s the green…

And here’s the blue…

And here’s the mug. It looks promising but I suspect it’s way too saturated.

Tito’s final mix

And the final ‘Fried’ mix.

Here it is opened up – the way I applied the dye ended up leaving huge areas of it that got no coverage. By contrast the Kool Aid had evenly penetrated the other pot.

Here’s Tito’s. You can see the colours are nicer, but the coverage is still quite patchy.

The left, middle, and right skeins were dyed using Kool Aid – the coverage on them is much better. I’m not sure how to fix this, definitely some research needed.

Kool Aid #1 – Cherry, Strawberry and Orange

Kool Aid #2 – Lime, Strawberry, Grape and Orange

Kool Aid #3 – Grape, Strawberry and Orange.

So far in my experiments I’ve got to say I’m happier with Kool Aid! My third attempt will use both, I think Kool Aid for the powerful reds and a touch of blue food colouring for colours I can’t achieve using Kool Aid. I’ll also need to find out why the penetration was so different with one versus the other. Fugly or no, I’m hoping to swatch these up this weekend and see how the colours come out!

Dying Yarn with Kool-Aid

So I finally tried dying yarn on my own for the first time, and I decided to ignore the expensive dying kit I bought at the KW Fair and go for Kool-Aid technique first. I was really surprised, I’ve never done this before and the results turned out beautifully, definitely a fun home project for anyone looking to make their own custom yarns! I don’t have a lot of wisdom on the subject, but for the record here is what I did in case anyone else wants to try it.

Here is the yarn I used – 200 grams of pure Alpaca. I’ve read that Kool-Aid doesn’t work with synthetic fibers, so I used an all natural skein of pure wool that I bought from an Alpaca farm a few weeks ago. I tied the hank up in a few places to make sure it wouldn’t get all tangled on me, and soaked it in hot water for at least half an hour before starting.

For step 2 we poured out almost all the water, we wanted just enough so that the water only barely covered the yarn in the pot. Then Tito (for I am hopeless at these things) put the yarn on the stove and brought it to a slow simmer. The trick is to not bring the heat up too fast, or to stir it, because these things can cause the yarn to felt.

These were the Kool-Aid flavours we chose. We had no idea what the colours would turn out as but were hoping for red, orange and pink.

While waiting for the yarn to simmer we mixed the Kool-Aid. We used very little water, just enough to dissolve the crystals. Don’t add sugar!

When the yarn was simmering we started to add the Kool-Aid – I poured one colour at one end of the pot, another colour at the other end, and the third colour down the middle.

Orange, cherry and strawberry turned out to be….red, reddish and orangy-red ;o) I’ll need to find more flavour options next time!

After adding my colours I let the yarn simmer for another half hour, just to soak it all in. You want to see mostly clear water – so you know the dye is all in the yarn now. We then took it off the heat and allowed it to cool on it’s own.

When it was cool, we drained it into a colander and used an old towel to gently press out the rest of the water. The results are already looking very cool. Judging by the state of the towel after it seems that it’s quite colourfast.

Afterwards we draped it over an old easel to dry, and left it there overnight.

This is from this morning; the colour is great! It’s not quite dry, but when it is I’m really looking forward to working with it. I’ll be picking up another few skeins of alpaca this weekend, and some different flavours to try it again. More pics to come when I see how this knits up ;o)


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