Friday, July 24, 2009

For Shelley: Yarn Dyeing Tutorial

I forgot to add - with kool-aid dyeing the wool you do not need any vinegar. You can also nuke the yarn in the microwave instead of steaming it on the stove top but we do not own a microwave so I am not sure of the time on that.

I dyed this yarn for my friend Shelley and she wanted to know how I did it. E-mailing a bunch of pics never works on my computer so I thought I would just post it here.
I actually learned how to do this from my friend Cat. It's surprisingly really simple and easy. It just can be a bit messy!

*I apologize in advance for the photos. The only way I can do this is late at night when the girls are sleeping so all the pics are taken with a flash and not very good.*

What I used (per skein of yarn):

-100% wool yarn tied in a skein but undone to make a large circle (see pic below)
-3 packages of kool-aid (I used 1 strawberry, 1 orange and 1 pink lemonade)
-3 glasses to hold kool-aid mixture
-trash bag
-plastic gloves
-turkey baster
-large pot with steamer basket

First, get your yarn ready for the dyeing process by soaking it in water for a few minutes so it is completely wet all the way through.

Put on your plastic gloves and get your dyes ready by pouring the kool-aid powder in separate glasses and add water. I know there is an actual ratio of 1 package of unsweetened drink mix per ounce of yarn BUT I tend to just wing it. Use less kool-aid for lighter colors, more for darker colors. I prefer the lighter colors so as you can see I filled the glasses up pretty high (you can see my mark on each glass). That is also what allowed me to only use 1 package of each color per skein.

Take your yarn out of the water and squeeze it a bit to remove most of the access water.Then lay a plastic garbage bag on your floor or table top and place the yarn on top of it like a big circle.

Starting with your lightest color (which for me was pink lemonade) take your turkey baster and squeeze some of the dye onto the yarn in whatever pattern you like. I tend to stick to the simple ratios, almost like cutting the circle like it was a cake.

Turn your skein over carefully and dye it on the back side, too. Then, with plastic gloves, gently press on the yarn to move the dye through all the layers. Beware of white spots, especially where the skein is tied.
Continue this way with the next darkest color (again, for me, it was the orange) and then the next. Make sure you rinse the baster really well between colors to prevent unwanted mixing.

Once you have finished dyeing carefully pick up your skein and place it in the steamer basket on your stove top and steam for 45 minutes over hot water. Do each skein individually so they will not bleed onto each other. Cool and wash your yarn. I use Eucalan wool wash.

Notice the time on the clock! That's why the pics are so bad ;)

Having matching pj pants on while dyeing is a must!

Once yarn is washed hang to dry (if outside make sure to hang out of direct sunlight).

Yes, my drying technique looks silly!

Voila! Beautifully colored yarn made just the way you want it. How perfect is that?!
The yarn will smell fruity for a few washes but it will fade away. The dye itself shouldn't bleed,the acidity in the kool-aid really makes it stick.

Shelley, it's going in the mail ASAP :) Hope you like it!



Unknown said...

Beautiful! I love those colors together.

Joy said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the tutorial. :)

Unknown said...

beautiful! it looks right up shelley's alley.

waldorfmama said...

nicole - the yarn looks SO beautiful! thank you so very much for making it for me and for this wonderful tutorial! :) ~ shelley, waldorfmama

mamaraby said...

I've found that putting an old towel under the yarn and on top of the garbage bag helps keep the colors a bit clearer for me, but that's also probably because I tend to like darker colors.

Anna said...

THat yarn looks yummy!

Mrs Shew said...

Wow Nicole, very very impressed. The yarn looks beautiful and what an awesome breakdown of "how-to"!!!

palmy said...

I, I am italian teacher and blogger, I link you in my blog (, see you soon!

Annie said...

Wow! I love how it turned out! I may just try this one day...

eringoodman said...

thank you so much for this.

i've dyed playsilks with koolaid a couple of times but haven't ventured into yarn yet.

i'm totally inspired now!!!

Maggie said...

This is beautiful Nicole!

I did not know that dying your own yarn could be this easy, I might just try it myself!
I guess if you would use 'normal' powdered colors you would need to add vinegar to the solution.
Do you have any good sources for white wool yarn or did you spin it yourself as well?


Mama Rose said...

That's seems way too easy-wow!!
Thank you for sharing this with us! By the way...I love your color scheme.

FrontierDreams said...

Thank you everyone! I hope this helps out!

Pampered Mom - Thank you for that tip! I will have to try that next time, that seems like it would help a lot!

Maggie - Yeah, I am pretty sure you would need to add vinegar to other dyes. I get my yarn from all kinds of places online - jimmybeanswool, knitpicks to naea couple. The O-Wool natural is by far my favorite though! HTH!

Prairie Girl said...

You've taken some of the mystery out of dyeing yarn for me - I may just be brave and give this a shot now!

Thanks for the awesome tutorial.

Cristina said...

Thanks for showing us your late night yarn dyeing! I love those happy colors :)

Pia said...

Thanks for the tutorial! The yarn looks so beautiful!!!

Olivia said...

does it have to be unsweetened?

FrontierDreams said...

The kool aid packet itself doesn't need to be unsweetened but don't add sugar to it :) Let me know if that helps!

KelleBelle said...

I love Kool-Aid dyeing, it's simple and the colours/flavours available are close to those available from acid dyes. Have you tried using cake decorating/food grade dyes? I hear Wilton colours are awesome, too!

FrontierDreams said...

I have been meaning to, but haven't tried that yet. I need to do it :)

AshleyAnn said...

I can't wait to try this with my boys...not sure what I'll do with the yarn afterwards since I don't know how to knit...I'll figure out something. Thanks for the tutorial!

Mellindor said...

Hi there!
I love your dying technique!

I was just wondering - because I don't think they have this CoolAid thing where I live - is it possible to make a dye from every type of powdered drinks? What are the CoolAid thing's contents?

And, also, can you recommend something to use for keeping the colors if I don't have this steamer basket?

Barefooted Mama said...

alright. that's it. i'm going to break down and by kool-aid. just too many useful (non edible.) things that can be done with it!

Patricia said...

Thank you for the tutorial!
I've made a link ;)
I wish you all the best and

Shanna said...

Hi there! I just found your blog post and can't wait to try it! I have a quick question. Did you wrap the skein in the plastic before you placed in the double boiler? I have seen that with other tutorials when they microwave but didn't know if it was necessary here. Thank you!

FrontierDreams said...

Hi Shanna! No, I did not wrap them in plastic. That might help to stop any bleeding though :)

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