Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More on Kool-Aid dyeing...

Well, I have photos now. First, my dyed samples...which were originally Winter White (Paton's Classic Wool).

I decided to start out playing with cherry and black cherry Kool-Aid, because I wanted red. (Yeah, what a surprise...) On the left is my first sample, straight cherry. It turned out to be a pinker red than I like, and a bit bright. But, that was sort of what I expected.

The middle sample is straight black cherry. It did turn out darker, which is what I expected, but it was still rather pink. How to fix that?

As luck would have it, I bought six (seven? eight?) different colors (um, flavors) of Kool-Aid, including lemon-lime. I wanted it less pink, and green is the complement of red, so logically it would tone down the pink.

It worked, but I overdid it a bit, so I overdyed with a bit more cherry. I like the color--a nice brick red--but it was darker than I wanted. But I'm still very happy with it; that's my third sample. Pretty, right?

I've droned on and on about the colors, but I haven't talked about the magic of Kool-Aid dyeing, which is the most addictive part. I used the "simple" version, which I've seen on several sites. It's really, really easy.

First, soak your wool (or other animal fiber) in lukewarm water. Leave it soaking while you prepare your dye. You'll need about one packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid per 1 oz of yarn...according to the websites. I think you'll need more to get decent (read "non-pastel") colors.

Anyway, mix the Kool-Aid in lukewarm water until it dissolved. Use enough water to cover the yarn plus an inch or two more. You can use as much water as you want, but more water means more time cooking your fiber. It's the amount of powder in the water that matters.

Transfer the wet fiber to the dye bath and press it down to submerge it. Place it in the microwave, and microwave it for two minutes. Let it sit for two minutes, then repeat until the magic happens.

And the magic? As you heat the dye bath, the fiber absorbs the dye. As the dye is absorbed, the water turns clear! It's amazing...

The first photo shows the fiber with the dye about half absorbed. In the second, the dye has been totally observed; note the clear liquid! See? It really is like magic...

Oh, be sure to let the yarn cool before messing with it or agitating it. Don't add cold water water to try to speed the process, either. We don't want random felting, do we? No.

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