Curl up and dye!

I’ve dyed fiber with kool aid before, but it was in my dorm room and with nearly white and quite dark greasy. So this time, I tried it both in the microwave (which I much prefer) and on the stove-top with some of my standard 56′ Heather Gray Wool roving. (On a side note, it’s quite nice to spin, medium-range staple length mid-range crimp, and a nice, warm gray.)

Kool aid dying is nice – you have everything you need right there in your kitchen (or kitchen-y area), it’s non-toxic, it’s fun colors, the kids can help, the dogs can help, and the fruity smells combine with that of wet wool to create a simply lovely, delicate aroma. Just remember that kool aid dyes natural things…that includes your clothes and fingers. Especially important if you leave the next day for a grad school interview…hmmm….I use my hands for things a lot (ask the people I’ve made record bowls with) and have only a slight green smidge on my left index finger, so don’t fret.

1. Go buy sugar-free kool aid. Check out a color chart to give you an idea of what color’s you’d like. Keep in mind that the amount of kool aid and fiber (and type of fiber) will change the color. And you can combine different colors of dye for more fun.

2. Plop your wool in a microwave-safe bowl (or pot for the stove), enough water to cover the fiber and your kool aid. Some places say to soak the wool first, others to dissolve the kool aid before adding the wool, some say vinegar and some say not. I’ve tried it all, and think that it’s all about the same. Leave out the vinegar (who wants vinegar, fruity, and wet wool smells all at once?) and do whatever’s easiest for you.

3.a. For the stove version, put your pot on the stove, covered, and keep the water hot, not boiling, until you see the water lose its color or your wool is the color you want. Remember the dried wool will be much lighter than the wet wool, so grab a spoon and pull it out to get a more accurate idea. Smush around the wool from time to time to make sure all of it is fully saturated.

3.b. For the microwave version, put a cover on your bowl (a big plate works great) and microwave for 10 minutes, take out and smush, microwave another 10 minutes…you get the picture. The water will become colorless and the wool nice and colored. For mine, it took between 20 and 30 minutes.

4. Spoon out the wet wool into a colander and rinse briefly, just to make sure the extra dyed water doesn’t go all over the place. Be careful here. Sometimes if you switch the water temp too quickly (hot to cold for instance) it’ll felt the wool.

5. PAT (not wring, not fluff, not anything that’ll agitate it or you’ll get felt) the fiber to get the excess water out, pull apart the fibers a bit, and put on a towel to dry.

6. Congratulations, you have lovely, colorful wool to spin! Try carding it together, card it with natural stuff, ply two colors together, enjoy some singles, take bits of it together to make some varigated yarn, you get the idea. Just make sure it’s completely dry before you try to spin it – sticky yucky fiber? no thank you!

If you DO end up making felt, no worries, it can be a lot of fun. Think felt balls for your kitty or little creatures or a hat or whatever else you think would be fun. šŸ™‚

The pictures here don’t show how bright these colors are and how rich they are. I’ve still got some nice gray in there, but it’s a good blend, so I’ll card it a bit, and I’ll be set.


One Comment to “Curl up and dye!”

  1. My favorite way to KoolAid dye is to heat up the teapot, and once it’s screaming, pour a touch over the Kool-Aid powder in a giant pyrex bowl. Next, put the fiber in, then fill with the rest of the boiling water and swirl gently. Finally, I just Saran Wrap it and come back a few hours later.

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