Sunday, June 27, 2010

my first experiment with kool-aid dyed yarn

i've been thinking about dying my own yarn for a little while now. there are some skeins on etsy that are so gorgeous, i don't think i'd ever use them for anything- i'd seriously just have them on a shelf so i could look at them. but they're also as expensive as they are pretty. so, i'm thinking to myself, 'hey, i'm pretty crafty! i bet i could do this!' i added a few basic dye essentials (dye and yarn, basically) to my amazon wish list and hoped somebody would buy them for me. as it turns out, my lovely husband did! and as he can't keep anything a secret, i got to open some of my birthday presents early. (my birthday is next week, but presents have been piling up around the house for about a month now, so i have to give him some credit...)

i had the house to myself yesterday while said husband was at work (that makes it sound like i have more than one husband, but i assure you, it's just the one), and some time to kill, so i figured now's as good a time as any to jump in with both feet. well, sort of. i decided to go for the kool-aid dyed yarn instead of the acid-dyed yarn because a) i don't know what the hell i'm doing yet, and b) i really, really didn't want to end up with acid-dye stains all over my house. also, kool-aid is a lot cheaper than the pretty little jars of acid-dye joey got for me, so if i'm going to eff up, i'd rather have it be a cheap effup. however, the yarn i put on my wish list turns out to be rather NOT cheap, but also not exactly what i'd hoped for, either. i apparently misread the label and asked for sport (or possibly even sock- i dunno, but this stuff is thin...) weight yarn instead of worsted weight. oh well, live and learn. but it's a lovely merino superwash wool and i'm sure i'll find plenty of things to do with it (like make hats to send to this kid...)

i found the easiest tutorial for kool-aid dyeing. it leaves a lot to chance and serendipity, but that's kind of what i like about it. if i'm doing a mult-color variegated yarn, i want it to be as random as possible. i'm not looking for self-striping (although i did find a blog about women who figured out how to do self-striping Fair Isle socks... holy moses, that looked like an awful lot of work, but really cool), i'm not looking for perfection- if i want that, i'll go to the store and get some machine dyed yarn. i want something...handmade-y.

so this is about as easy as it gets:
1) soak yarn in warmish water in a big sautee pan for 30 minutes
2) add your kool-aid. use a chop stick to gently mix up any undissolved mix- don't untangle your yarn or it will be a huge mess when you're done. (i chose four colors, and added two packets of each. i think the next time i do this, i'll be more discerning with my color palatte, and play around with how much kool-aid i add. everything ended up very heavily saturated, color-wise, and i think i want some more variety there.)
3) bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. let cool.
4) rinse well, hang dry. (the drying took FOREVER! i had to let it dry overnight, and i really wanted to wind it up right away and crochet something with it. the waiting for it to dry was probably the hardest part of this whole thing)

aaaand that's about it. couldn't be easier.

the yarn smelled pretty fruity while it was wet, but once it's dry, i didn't notice the smell anymore, which is kind of a bummer. i'd love to make things that naturally smelled like chemical-fruity-goodness. i went out and got some worsted weight wool and some sugar n' cream cotton yarn yesterday. i'm not sure how far i'll go with this (selling in my etsy shop), but it sure is fun to play around with.


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