Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dyeing Part 2: Kool-Aid on the Stove Top

I have dyed a lot of fiber and yarn with Kool-Aid, but I am by no means an expert.

Here is a bunch of yarn I dyed with Kool-Aid for a blanket for Clucky.
Finished blanket
I like using Kool-Aid and other food safe dyes, like food coloring and Easter egg dyes, because they are food safe, and I can use the same pots and cooking utensils that I use to make food with for my family.  I don't need a separate set of equipment to dye yarn and fiber in.  I can also use the microwave, stove, oven, or a crock pot to dye yarn with.

My preferred method to dye yarn and fiber for a semi-solid color is on the stove in a pot.  I also like to use the microwave to heat hand-painted or multi colored yarn and fiber - hand painting it in a microwave safe pyrex or casserole dish.  If you use the microwave or oven to heat set your fiber, you will want to make sure your yarn or fiber is always damp/wet, so it doesn't burn.

These were hand painted with Kool-Aid and heat set in the microwave.
Ooo . . . rainbow yarn dyed with Kool-Aid
I call this one "Sunset" - also done with Kool-Aid.

Here is a very basic tutorial on how to dye fiber (or yarn) with Kool-Aid on the stove top.

Today I'll be dyeing alpaca roving with Kool-aid.

First you need to soak your yarn and fiber.  Depending on the type of fiber, it may need to soak for 30 minutes to overnight.  I find that I get the brightest colors when I soak my alpaca yarn or fiber overnight.  I like to soak mine in a crock pot or large baking dish.
Here is some alpaca roving soaking in a baking dish.

Next, pick out your Kool-Aid.
Look at all these choices!
Here I picked pink lemonade
I fill a pot with lukewarm water and place it on the stove.  I then add the Kool-Aid and stir well to mix.  The amount of water in the pot does not affect the saturation of the color when you dye.  What matters is how much dye you have per oz, etc of fiber or yarn.  The water just dilutes the color enough to make sure the fiber gets evenly saturated.  The more packets of Kool-Aid you use, the deeper the color.  I should also mention that you want to use the unsweetened Kool-Aid that comes in the little packets.  You also don't need to add citric acid or vinegar when dyeing with Kool-Aid because there is already citric acid in the Kool-Aid.
Water in pot.
Add the Kool-Aid
Kool-Aid and water mixed
I gently squeeze out the excess water from the soaking fiber, and then gently place the fiber into the pot filled with water and Kool-Aid.  The fiber will start absorbing the Kool-Aid right away.  If you are using superwash yarn or fiber, it will absorb it even quicker.
Fiber in the Kool-Aid

You then want to warm up and heat your water until it is just below boiling.  Now heat and agitation can cause wool, including alpaca, to felt.  We don't want that to happen when we are dyeing.  Once the water is heated keep it at that temperature for 10-15 minutes.  Then turn off the stove and let the water cool down until it is cool to the touch.  You don't want to handle the fiber (or yarn) very much right now, or it could felt. 

As the water is cooling you can check to see if all the dye has been absorbed by the fiber.  I like to do this with a spoon.  I just lift out a spoonful of water and see if the water is clear or gently push the fiber off to the side to check the color of the water.

Water is clear, all done!
When the fiber (or yarn) has cooled, you can now rinse it.  I like to use a dish or bowl in the sink with cool to luke warm water and a squirt of Fibre Rinse or dish soap.  I fill the dish with water and my squirt of soap and swish it around to get bubbles.  I then place my dyed fiber into the dish and gently move it around.  At this point any excess dye should be rinsing out.  Depending on the colors used you may get no bleeding or a bit of bleeding of excess dye.  I dump the soapy water out of the dish.  I then let the tap run into the rinsing dish being careful not to let the stream of water be directly on my yarn or fiber.  I swish my fiber around in the dish until the soap and any excess dye is rinsed out, and the water runs clear.
Rinsing the fiber -- (the pink didn't turn green - this is a different batch of dyed fiber)
I then use my handy dandy salad spinner to spin out the excess water in the fiber.
In the salad spinner -- (I also dyed orange fiber that day!)
I then set the fiber on old mesh window screens to dry.
Finished alpaca roving - I dyed a lot of different colors that day
There are many other ways and techniques to dye yarn and fiber with Kool-Aid and food coloring.  This is just a very basic tutorial to get you jump started into the world of dyeing yarn and fiber.
Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid
Berry Blue Kool-Aid
Orange Kool-Aid
Grape Kool-Aid
Angora (rabbit) dyed with Pink Lemonade and Grape Kool-Aid

Have fun dyeing your own yarn and fiber!

Here are some other references on dyeing yarn with food-safe dyes.
Ravelry group - What A Kool Way to Dye
Dye Your Yarn - a great reference for dyeing yarn complete with color charts for various types of food coloring and kool-aid.

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