We are celebrating the arrival of spring flowers and colored eggs by learning to dye yarn in our kitchen all month long!
Every week we’ll post a new technique using fun food-safe dye experiments.
Our first technique uses unsweetened powdered koolaid packets. I really love the trendy speckled yarn I see by so many talented indy dyers, and there couldn’t be an easier technique to begin with than speckle dyeing with powdered koolaid.
Here’s what you’ll need:
latex gloves (those blue nitrile ones give the best protection)
a large glass casserole dish
4 packets of koolaid in your desired colors (or 1 packet per ounce of yarn)
white or light colored yarn that is protein based. (Wool, alpaca, silk, llama, milk fiber) SUPERWASH WOOL takes dye the brightest and works best. For this tutorial, I used a skein of white Red Heart brand CHIC SHEEP that I bought at my local craft store.
NOTE: This type of dye will not work on plant based or acrylic yarn
Prepare your yarn:
To get your yarn ready to dye you’ll want to wrap it into a loop by either wrapping it onto a niddy noddy, (Yes, we DO have a tutorial for that!), or around the back of kitchen chairs to make a nice large loop. Tie your loop in at least 4 places with figure 8 ties to secure it.
Next, soak your yarn in a sink of cool water with about a half cup of vinegar added. Let it soak until it’s wet all the way through – about an hour.
To Speckle Dye:
Press the excess water from your yarn by draining the water and gently pressing the yarn to get rid of the excess. Spread the damp yarn out in your large casserole dish. Now comes the fun part – open your koolaid packets and sprinkle away! Be warned – the color won’t appear at first until the wetness in the yarn soaks the koolaid powder. So I could see where my color was, I’d sprinkle, then press with my fingers to see how much color was in a particular spot. If you don’t want to use your fingers, you could use the back of a spoon to press the powder into the wet yarn.
Let your inner indy dye artist break free! I had trouble restraining myself, and as a result I’m pretty sure I over-speckled, but I’d love to try another skein with fewer speckles in just a couple colors. I’d also like to completely dye a skein with a light color then speckle over that.
Don’t be afraid to move your skein around, even lift it up and turn it over to get the underside. When you’re happy with the results, cover it with plastic wrap and microwave in 1 minute blasts, about 3 times, waiting a few minutes in between. Your goal is to get it all nice and steamy inside the casserole dish. Don’t remove the plastic wrap – just allow the dish to hold temperature as long as it will. Allow it to cool completely. (Oh, believe me – I know how the suspense is killing you!)
Then rinse the yarn in a sink full of cool water to remove any excess dye. IF your water turns brightly colored, several things may have happened.
- you used too much koolaid – at some point the yarn will be so saturated with dye it can’t take any more, and at that point, your yarn will bleed the excess
- your yarn isn’t wool or other protein based yarn – if it isn’t protein based, the desired chemical reaction won’t happen and your yarn will bleed the dye
- it didn’t get hot enough. A temperature of about 170 degrees is needed to “set” the colors. Steam indicates a proper temperature. Try reheating?
- you used soap in the washing water, which causes dye to bind to it and bleed into the water. Just use cool clear water for this first wash
After pressing the excess water out of your dyed skein, hang it to dry, (I use a clothes hangar and put it outside on a nice day).
One of the nicest thing about koolaid dyed yarn is the lovely light fruity smell of your finished yarn! Knitting it is an absolute pleasure!
I wish I could tell you how much I love this Chic Sheep yarn! It is such a good base, not only to dye with, but to knit with as well.
One skein is sufficient to knit our 2 Circ Sockettes pattern and they are my new favorite socks – edging out socks I’ve knit from much more expensive yarns.
I’ve padded all over the house in my koolaid socks this week and haven’t taken them off yet!
We’ve been getting some excellent feedback on our 2 Circ Sockettes pattern. You can knit up these shorty socks in 3 sizes, and a 10 page photo tutorial that walks you through the sock knitting process is included. The pattern/tutorial is available on Ravelry.
Now I’d love to see your gorgeous speckle dyed yarns! Post them in our Crafty Community facebook group, and share the hand dyed love! Use the hashtag #aprildyealong to share on instagram and facebook
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