Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to dye with Kool-Aid

Twice a year, fiber people gather at our farm to share skills, patterns, and enthusiasm. They bring fiber projects to work on and a dish to share for lunch. Some people want to learn to spin. Others come for the felting lessons. Still others spend their day around the dye pots.

Not everyone can dye at home in their kitchens, so having a place to go that supplies dye pots, dyes and a heat source (a wood fire) is a real plus. Some years we dye in the rain. One year we dyed in the snow. Last Saturday we dyed on a perfect day, sunny and windless. People dyed carded roving and yarns. They experimented with variegated yarns, dying only parts of a skein at a time. They overdyed gray and brown yarns with blue. They used commercial dyes, natural dyes and Kool-Aid.

The commercial dyes the most dependable dyes one could ever use, the natural dyes are probably the most capricious, and the Kool-Aid dyes the safest. You can dye with Kool-Aid in your cooking pots, in your kitchen, with kids, and never have to worry about toxicity. Beyond it's safety, there are two really wonderful things about Kool-Aid as a dye: 1) the colors are bright and childlike, and 2) the yarn smells like Kool-Aid for a long time after dyeing.

The following recipe was developed for small amounts of wool by Kathey Skarie: 

Kool-Aid Dyeing in a Microwave
  • 1/2 oz clean fiber (wool, angora, mohair, silk, llama).
  • 1 - 2 packages unsweete

    ned Kool-Aid, may be more than one flavor
  • White vinegar
  • Microwave safe container
  • Plastic wrap.
  • Soak fiber in the microwave container; drain off the excess water. (If your water is hard, mix in some Calgon to soften it.)
  • Sprinkle dry Kool-Aid over the fiber. Poke the Kool-Aid into the fiber with your fingertips. This is a good way to make a variegated fiber, either using two colors (flavors) of Kool-Aid or leaving lots of fiber with no color in it. (If your water contains iron, the grape will be a very disappointing gray.)
  • Mix a "glug" of vinegar with one cup of water. Pour this mixture around the fiber, using just enough to keep the fiber moist but not enough to mix the Kool-Aid. The colors should remain distinct.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the fiber is just hot. Use short time settings and check frequently. Too much heat or time could damage the fiber.
  • Cool. Rinse gently. 
Batch Kool-Aid Dyeing

  • 1# wool
  • 10 packages one flavor of Kool-Aid
  • large kettle
  • Dissolve 10 packages of Kool-Aid in a large kettle to make a dye bath.
  • Wet the wool, then submerge in dye bath.
  • Turn stove to high and heat until just before the bath boils.
  • Turn heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Pour off dye. Allow wool to cool. Rinse in cool water until the water runs clear. Hang to dry.

No comments:

Post a Comment