Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kool-Aid dyeing

This isn't anything new or original. Many, many people have dyed yarn with Kool-Aid long before I even started knitting. But it was fun. And there isn't enough progress on anything else to justify their blogworthiness.

I had a hank of Knitpicks Bare Sock yarn, the superwash kind. Originally, I was going to try for stripes and make a pair of Feather and Fan socks. I never quite got around to it. When the spring issue of Interweave Knits came in the mail, most of it was pretty "eh." Except for the Spiral Boot Socks. Those I desperately needed. So I dyed my yarn, hoping to get a pretty pink color.
Here we have one skein of the yarn, four packets of Pink Lemonade Kool-Aid, and a pot. A small pot, but the biggest I own. Following the instructions from Knitty, I added the four packets (according to a converter I found online, my 100 grams equaled about 3.5 oz. One packet per ounce, four is a good number), added the yarn, then poured more water on top.

The thing the ladies at Knitty didn't mention: yarn floats. I could not get it down under the water. The other thing they didn't mention: yarn soaks up dye really fast. I was desperately trying to push the yarn down, and the water was getting clearer by the second.

Thinking quickly, I pulled out a mixing bowl. Dropped the yarn into that, pour the Kool-Aid on top, and added more water. The water had gone from a very bright pink, to just a milky tint. Some parts of the yarn were saturated with the pink, and others hadn't even been touched. Not really what I was going for. A little bit of variation would be fine, but not that much.

I added more water to the pot, more Kool-Aid (one packet pink lemonade and one of watermelon cherry, since I wanted to drink some of the pink lemonade, and therefore couldn't use it all for my yarn), stirred that up, dropped the yarn back into the pot, poured the water on top, and turned on the heat. Since the yarn was superwash, I wasn't worried about felting it, but I was concerned about burning it. Just about everything else I make in that pot gets a little bit scorched onto the bottom, and that could not happen with my yarn. I stirred constantly.
The color of the yarn still wasn't even. I scooped a little bit of water out, added another packet of watermelon cherry, and poured it in where the yarn was the lightest. Stir some more, and turn off the heat, and let it sit.

It wasn't until I was getting ready to rinse my yarn that I realized part of my problem. I forgot to soak my yarn prior to dyeing it. Dumb, I know.

Still, the end result?

One skein of slightly-ratty looking flamingo yarn.
What did I learn from this?
1. I need a bigger pot.
2. Always get more Kool-Aid than you think you need. For the yarn I had, four packets should have been plenty. I ended up with seven, and could probably have gone up to eight without any trouble.
3. Tie your hanks in more places than you think you should. I tied in six places. It wasn't enough.
3. Kool-Aid dyeing is frickin' fun.

Did I get what I had originally intended? No. Am I happy with what I did get? Abso-fucking-lutely. Will I be doing this again? Soon as I get more white yarn. And once Kool-Aid goes on sale again. It was 10 cents a pack when I bought all this, so I stocked up. But most of it's for drinking.

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