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How to Dye Yarn

As I have mentioned, I love to take apart sweaters to reclaim ‘lost yarn’.  This is a wonderful idea, but what if the only sweaters you can find are really boring colors (or just plain ugly)?

Kool-aid man to the rescue!

Cue Kool-aid man bursting in through the wall, shouting “Oh YEAH!” 

 

 

Ok, so maybe not the Kool-aid man, but the powdery drink mix itself is wonderful for dyeing wool and other animal fiber yarns! The process is much simpler than I thought it would be, and, though it does take a bit of time, it leaves your house smelling yummy! :)

I’m going to outline the basic steps of dyeing, but feel free to search around as there are many websites dedicated to kool-aid dyeing. Some even offer color charts so you can combine kool-aid flavors to reach a desired color! Amazing!


So my first attempt is using a basic cream colored sweater with a light striping of grey. I am aiming for a rose color, with the darker stripes naturally picking up a bit darker color.

  • Step 1: Unravel sweater (make sure it is mostly animal fiber)

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  • Step 2: Wind yarn into small hanks, loosely tying 4-6 times around to keep together

Rose 1

  • Step 3: Soak yarn in lukewarm water for about half an hour, until completely saturated.

Rose 2

  • Step 4: Add Kool-aid* to 1/2 pot of water on the stove. Stir until mixed. Begin heating pot on medium-high heat. Add yarn.

*To achieve a Rose color for my two hanks, I added 2 Grape, 2 Cherry, 1 Tropical Punch, & 1 Pink Lemonade. *Make sure they are sugar-free!

**I also wanted a slight variation in color (not uniform) so I added 1 Tropical Punch to the top and did not stir

  • Step 5: Let yarn sit in pot until hot (not boiling) and it has soaked up all the color. Stir gently – do not aggravate yarn or it can felt. The remaining liquid in the pot will now be clear (as in the picture below)

Rose 3

  • Step 6: Let cool in pot until lukewarm, then rinse gently with similar temperature water until yarn rinses clear - there should be very little (if any) color rinsing out.

  • Step 7: Wash with gentle soap if desired (there will be a light fruity smell to the yarn otherwise). Gently squeeze the yarn out (no twisting) and roll in a towel to remove any excess water

  • Step 8: Hang to dry, it takes 1-2 days to dry completely. Roll into balls.

IMG_3923

  • Step 9: Admire your handy work & enjoy your newly-dyed yarn!

IMG_4398

* See the pretty bit of color variation in the yarn when it’s worked up? Not exactly the color I was trying for, but I love it! The one below is striped with the original yarn!

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Now go buy yourself some Kool-aid and dye up that ugly yarn you have had sitting around forever!

Have fun! –> And I’d love to see what you come up with!

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