Tuesday, May 31, 2011


When I was younger (okay, up until around four years ago), one of my favorite things to do was choose a somewhat outrageous shade of red and apply it to my head. It all began in the 6th grade, when my girlfriends and I would use Kool Aid to color strands of our hair green or blue or pink. Sometimes, it made a mess (my old apartment's bathroom looked a bit like a crime scene after one particularly careless incident). Sometimes, it made me look a bit mad, but it was always fun, always a change. And, I love color.

Monday, I tried a new kind of dyeing. I colored some wool using Kool Aid dyes! I found a couple of nice tutorials ("How I hand-painted using Kool-Aid or food coloring dyes" and "Hand Painted - Dyed Yarns"). It was actually much easier (and less messy) than I had anticipated, although I learned a few things to do differently next time! Here are the pictures...

Ramen & bread dough?

The yarn on the left was hand spun from KnitPicks bare roving Peruvian Wool. On the right, I used Peruvian Wool Silk roving. In this photo, the fiber is bathing in some water-vinegar mixture.

The assorted "dyes"

At this point, I got a bit excited about the process and forgot to take many additional photos... but, the gist is that I soaked, then laid out the fiber and squirted on the dye and then microwaved it to set the dye. Then, I had to wait for it to cool, rinse it and hang it to dry. Here are the final results...


Cherry/Grape, Strawberry and Orange!

The yarn was fun to color. I used squirt bottles and did spaces of dark red, red and orange. As you can see, it bled together a lot, but it still varies. I could have gone for a bit more color intensity and will probably be more generous with the Kool Aid in the dye next time. I might also try it on a flatter surface than in a baking dish, in hopes that the dye wouldn't run as badly. I was pleasantly surprised though, it looked like there were a lot of white spots when I first put it in the microwave to set the color, but the dye spread and it all ended up taking on color!

Lemon/Lime, Raspberry Lemonade, Cherry/Grape

The fiber sucked in the dye like a sponge. I used more dye on it than on the yarn, and it still stayed uncolored in most spots! I think it will spin up nicely, but it wasn't what I was expecting. If I were to dye fiber again, I would probably soak it in just one color, or I would braid it and then apply the color like I see so many artists do on etsy.

I am considering buying some Jacquard dyes, but I'll probably stick with Kool Aid for now because it's so cheap (and the smell is nice!). I am pretty excited about knitting the yarn I spun and colored, spinning the roving and trying it all again!


Liz said...

Love it!!! Kool Aid dyeing is so easy and fun. I will say if you decide to buy acid dyes, remember to buy a mask as well since inhaling the powder, etc, could be very harmful (or so I'm told), which is why I avoided it when pregnant and after I first had the kids. I just stuck with Kool Aid since it's non-toxic :) And smells great!

Platypusak said...

This is terrific! The pieces are gorgeous.