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What dye is best for

Marie Winfield

I picked up a whole handful of Kool-Aid packets at the supermarket one day.  My kids were all giddy.  "Ooooh, I like this color!  What's that one called?  I like purple! What flavor do you have?  What does this taste like?  Is it good?"
I decided to show the Pickles what colored dye is best for--DYEing things!
We loved our Kool-Aid; we just didn't drink it!
This is what Kool-Aid was made for!  A kid-safe dye to create stunning, fun, colorful hanks of yarn!
Dye-ing wool yarn with Kool-Aid is a wonderfully kid-friendly project that reaps such lovely rewards!

Here's what we did:

1:  100% wool yarn.  We purchased Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool which smells strongly of lanolin later during the microwaving stage, and Paton's Classic Wool Roving Yarn which did not have such a smell.  In otder to help the dye reach all the fibers of the yarn, we unwound the ball of wool yarn and created a loop of yarn instead.  We loosely wound our yarn around the top of a chair, and then loosely tied the yarn together at four points to keep all the strings together and manageable.
2:  Like so.  These are ready to go.  We used a heathery gray and a creamy white wool.  The heathery gray creates darker more subtle colors in the end.

3:  In very warm, yes, even almost hot water, submerge the wool yarn.  The Pickle's wanted to help with this part, so I first made sure that the water was not too hot for their hands.  Agitating or stirring the yarn around would create a felted ball of wool, wo we were very careful to simply press the yarn into the water.  Placing wool in warm water relaxes the fibers, which makes them easier to felt or bind to each other and create a solid mass.  We simply made sure the yarn was fully submerged.

4:  We wanted all the air out of the yarn, so to ensure that the yarn was fully soaked, we allowed it to sit in the warm water for about 20 minutes.  We wanted the yarn completely and totally drenched--soaked through and through.
5:  In the meantime, we prepped our work table.  We found it easiest to mix our Kool-Aid in pint sized glass canning jars.  We used 1 cup water, 2 tsp vinegar, and 2 packets of Kool-Aid per jar.  We had a few "squeeze" bottles which we transferred our dye into because it was easier for little hands to control the dye on the yarn.  We only had two bottles for this round, but I'm saving dish detergent bottles for future dyeing!  For the rest of the colors, we used soup spoons to ladle the dye onto the yarn.  All that matters is getting the dye onto the yarn, one way or another!
6:  At each child's work space, we placed a piece of plastic wrap, large enough to reach at least 3 inches beyond the length of the yarn loop.

7:  Removing yarn from the warm water, we gently squeezed out all the excess water.  Once again we were careful not to agitate the yarn and accidently felt it!  We placed a yarn loop on each piece of plastic wrap.

8: ...and colored away!

9:  When each child had satisfactorily colored their yarn to their heart's content, we prepared it for the microwave, to set the color.  We first wrapped the edges of the plastic wrap in around the yarn--the ends first and then the long sides.  We created a "bag" of sorts to seal the dye and yarn together for the heating process.  We rolled both long sides of the yarn in towards the middle of the loop until they touched, and placed our yarn-dye-ing "snake" in a microwave safe glass dish, not overlapping any parts of the plastic-wrapped yarn.

10:  Microwave it!  This was a part the Pickles did not do, as the yarn can become quite hot in the microwave.  We microwaved each yarn loop individually for two minutes, then rotated the yarn to prevent "hot spots" (being so careful because it was already very hot!) and then microwaved for two minutes more.  When held up, the water that would drain out was perfectly clear!  The color had set!  If the water ran cloudy, we microwaved it for a bit longer.  The water was 100% clear when all the dye was absorbed into the yarn.

11:  We rinsed the yarn in a bath of fresh warmish water with a drip of dish detergent.  This is simply to wash away any extra Kool-Aid residue from the yarn, being still careful to no agitate the yarn and create felt.  We gave it a gentle rinse, and sometimes a repeat.  We hung our yarns over the bathtub to catch the drips while it continued to dry completely.  

12:  When completely dry, we rolled our yarn into balls and hanks or some instantly started in on the project list that was compiled while the yarn dried!

Let us know if you use Kool-Aid to dye a project!
Always be creative,
Marie Winfield

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