October 10, 2016

Kool-aid Dyeing

Last week you got to see Anthos' first tiny sweater, and I mentioned that I had a ton of yarn left and was thinking about dying it. Let's see how that turned out shall we?

There is a ton of good resources on the internet on methods on how to dye your yarn using Kool-aid packets, but I was not using the standard yarn, in weight, type or amount, which made most of them more of suggestions.
Starting yarn.
Let's review: I am using an extra fine, merino wool, lace weight yarn, and about 50 yards, maybe.

Most instructions call for using several packets, but I figured one packet would be more than enough dye for my small amount of yarn. So I got two flavors: Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Black Cherry, figuring they would be good strong colors. There are a ton of charts online for what colors you can get with what packets, but I didn't have a ton of options in my grocery store. I decided to try each color straight and then a third with a combo of the leftover water.
Steps:
1. Wind yarn into loose ball. For me, this meant wrapping around two fingers to make a sort of donut of yarn. This greatly affected how the dye turned out, but there isn't really a good way to start a ball with such fine yarn. I should have been more careful about how I did it, perhaps next time I'll look up how to make one of those skein/hank shapes...
2. Wet yarn in water. Be careful not to manipulate it too much or it will felt into a giant knot.
3. Add to small pot with just enough water for it to float around in. For me this was about 2 inches.
4. Add packet of kool-aid and stir to mix into water.
happily simmering. 
5. Leave over a low heat (4) on stove. Occasionally flip over in water. I left the blue ball in the water for maybe 15 minutes. Black cherry maybe 10 minutes since it was so dark of a color. And the hybrid color for 8 minutes. I wanted to see if the length was really affecting the color.
looks really dark when wet, had no idea insides were still light
6. Remove yarn to cups to cool and set. I made little tin foil cups and set them in a bowl so they wouldn't run or dye anything I cared about accidentally. Forgot about them so they had about 3 hours of cooling time... probably more than needed.
7. I gave each ball a quick rinse and squeeze under cool water to make sure it wouldn't leak dye.
8. Wind yarn again onto something to dry fully. I thought about using cardboard strips but I figured it would just warp and crumble since the yarn was wet, so I used three glass bottles.
Done!
unravelling the ball revealed weak spots in color
I wound the black cherry and the hybrid color first. What I immediately saw is that the edges and outside took the color much better than the inside. So if I had wanted a real gradient, from the cream it was to the color, I should have been more careful to wind it like a true ball, but if I wanted a total solid, I should have made a larger more open and thin loop. I am doubtful that longer in the water would have helped with this as it just didn't seem to penetrate all the way to the core of the blue which I left in there the longest. Instead I got a sort of variegated gradient, which you can see best on the blue as I wound it carefully.
drying on the bottles, blue wrapped best from outside at the top to inside at the bottom
I really like the straight colors, as they are pretty vibrant. The mixed color is a bit dusty and I think the ratio of water was off, with much more cherry than blue. I still kind of like it though and am thinking about using it in combo with the straight cherry for stripes.

In any case I now have three new tiny balls of yarn to make new sweaters out of for Anthos, with still more of the neutral cream left over. For a few hours of work and $1 in kool-aid, this is the skein that just keeps on giving.

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