Kool-aid dyeing

June 5, 2005

Kool-aid, baby

Lately I haven't really felt like knitting. It could be because of the start of running season (10k next weekend!) or the dead hot weather that has recently descended on NYC. Most likely it has something to do with my ongoing indecision about what to knit.

The thing is this: I seriously have more yarn than one person should have. I don't really want to buy more. But every project I want to knit seems to require new yarn. and I refuse to purchase more. Also, I've been lazy/nervous about converting patterns to new gauges. Thus, no new projects are getting started!

Instead of knitting, I've been Kool-aid dyeing! and I am way hooked.

With some Knitpicks Color Your Own sock yarn (unbeleivably soft yarn if you haven't tried it) and Kool-Aid packets straight from suburbia, it was on.

This is my favorite one. Its self-striping. Mostly green, with little orange stripes.


Working with Kool-aid is a challenge because pretty much every color is neon. The skein above was dyed twice. The first time, I used straight-up lemon-lime and orange flavors. This resulted in 80s-quality neon yarn. Not really what I was going for... So I decided to try overdyeing it, re-dyeing the green section with purple (Grape), and the orange section with red (Grape Illusion). I am so thrilled with the true green color!

June 6, 2005


Here's how to make your own self-striping sock yarn with Kool-aid dye. At least, this is how I did it.

1. The key to self-striping yarn is a reallllly long hank. The stripes happen when there are long stretches of different colors. To get these long areas of color, you need a long hank. I used two chairs placed across the living room from each other. Here's a photo of the setup:

(This was taken after the dyeing. See where the stripes are?)

2. Actually, before doing this, I figured out my gauge with the undyed yarn. Then I decided I wanted 3 different colored three-row stripes in my sock. So I figured how much yarn that would take and put the two chairs exactly this far away from each other. This is not entirely necessary. Live on the edge - guesstimate!

3. Once you've made the really long hank, tie off sections of it that will be dyed different colors. I used some dark acrylic to mark where the color changes should go.

4. Soak the hank in water while preparing the dyes.

5. Mix up some Kool-aid with water in jars. I used 2-3 packets per each color, and one jar for each color. The more dye, the more intense of a color will result. I found that with light colors like yellow (lemonade) and pink (pink lemonade), its better to err on the side of too much dye rather than not enough.

6. Meanwhile, heat up some water in a large pot to boiling. The jars will go in here to be heated, which sets the dye. Check to make sure the water will not overflow when the jars are added.

7. Heat the jars of yarn in the larger pot until the water in the jars is clear. Its not necessary to maintain boiling water at this point, but the water should be hot. It really turns clear or milky once the yarn has absorbed all the dye! This is the coolest effect. Stir a little bit, but not too much. Some of my yarn got felt-y, and I think this was the cause.


8. Remove the yarn from the jars one color at a time and put on a plate or in a strainer or something. The colors will not run into to each other, so feel free to let the colors touch. Let cool.

9. Wash and dry per usual.


10. Return the really long hank to the chair setup and wind into a normal-sized hank. Actually, you could go straight to a yarn ball from here. I wound mine into hanks because I wanted to see what they'd look like in hanks. Plus, I could use the yarn winder thing.

Here's the final result. Self-striping yarn, made at home, without the help of the Regia corporation!


An excellent entry over at ginabeana
Shetha's recent spice dyeing entry
Knitty's article on Kool-aid dyeing
A great Kool-aid dyeing color chart

June 7, 2005

One Skein Wonder

This was such a quick knit that I didn't even have a chance to write about its progress!



Its Glampyre's One Skein Wonder. I used size 7 needles and a yarn that got 4.5spi instead of the called-for 4spi. Before casting on, I spent a good week worrying about not having the correct gauge. When I finally sat down with the pattern and a calculator, it became quite clear that I could just make a larger size. no problem! silly.


The yarn is Cascade 220. This hank has a history. It started out white, purchased last spring while I considered a crochet edge on my very first scarf. That was an ill-fated idea, and months later it began again as The Thing. The Thing wasn't really my thing, but luckily, along came Kool-aid dyeing! As it turns out, this yarn was meant to be green.

This is my favorite thing about hand dyed yarn, the subtle variations in color depth.


The Kool-aid recipe: 7 packets Lemon-lime, 1 packet Lemonade, 2 packets Wild Watermelon Kiwi (also green), 1 packet Grape. The grape helps to tone down the neon green for a more reasonable color.

This was a total of 11 packets for 100g of yarn, way more than any Kool-aid dyeing article recommends (I've heard 1 packet per ounce). Its quite possible this same color can be acheived with less Kool-aid. I got a little concerned while dyeing it and poured in like 4 extra packets of green and the yellow. Just to be on the safe side.

July 5, 2005

Stash score

Last week, I was walking through Design Partners, this small art supply store that caters mainly to FIT students, and carries mostly non-fabulous yarns (but decent knitting needles and accessories), when I ran into this:


4 Skeins of Lion Brand Textures perfect for dyeing. They practically jumped out of the sale bin and requested to come home with me. It was only $8 for all four, so how could I say no? They are 100% wool and destined to meet Kool-aid at some point in the future.

Usually I wouldn't stash yarn without even a vague idea of a project in mind, but dyeing changes this. Down the road, when they are pulled out of the stash and dyed, it won't be like working with a potentially-unexciting stash yarn, rather more like working with brand new freshly-colored yarn.

This weekend I did some knitting, and even finished *something*, but neglected to take photos! tomorrow perhaps...

Also this weekend I designed Stephanie's new site! I hope you all checked it out. It was great fun. If you need a new blog or a new design, I'm your girl!

July 11, 2005


Its always about the colors. What color should it be, how will it feel, and (most importantly), will I wear it? Color is always my first consideration when choosing a yarn for a project. I am rarely driven by a fiber type so much as by what shade it is, how it fits into my wardrobe, the intended season.

For the Hot Lava Cardigan, I envisioned a minty green, like Altoids Spearmint:


However, preliminary tests involving Kool-aid dyeing did not quite yield the right shade. The closest I got is evidenced in the sample second from the right in the top row, below. In real life, it resembles that aqua shade often found in acrylic yarns destined for baby garments. oh no.


From left to right and top to bottom, they are in order of dyeing. The colors that turned out the best are the ones I did last.. guess I got the hang of mixing by then!

There were a couple shades that stood out for the Hot Lava Cardigan.

Not-so-Muted Pink. This was 2/3 pink lemonade, and 1/3 lemonade. Could be muted down further though, in person it seems very bright. Perhaps by adding a little tiny bit of green.

Duck Egg Blue. Equal parts blue and green, plus a shake of grape. This is like my go-to color. I am always drawn to it.

Straw. 2/3 yellow, 1/3 orange, plus a shake of grape. I loved the variation in this shade, but wondered about the wearability of the resulting garment.

Following a great deal of deliberation regarding color choices, I decided on muted pink. But, after mixing up an entire dye pot of just the right shade of muted pink, at the last minute I poured it out and went with Duck Egg Blue.


The dye pot is a 21-quart canner I purchased from Kmart for $20. It worked quite well for these 3 skeins(5oz each). They fit with no problem, and I probably could have added another skein too.

The final result is not the blue I expected, but I am very very happy with it. Its like a seafoam green, a darker variant of spearmint green.


The Kool-aid recipe:
4 Flavoraid Lemon-Lime*
5 Berry Blue
5 Raspberry Reaction (also blue)
3/4 packet Grape
1/2 packet Orange

*Flavoraid Lemon-lime seems MUCH more potent than KA green. It only took 4 packets of it to 10 packets blue! It also seemed to penetrate the skeins unevenly, leading to some lovely variation.

November 28, 2005

Hello, Turkish cast on

Turkish cast on*, I am so sorry for having neglected you in the past. Purly and Anna both mentioned your greatness in entries past. You just looked rather complicated, and I was busy running. Had I known you were such a superior knitting technique, I certainly would not have delayed in learning your secrets. Because you produce such. nice. toes. I may be unable to go back to regular toe knitting.


I planned two new pairs of socks. and dyed up some sock yarn. I couldn't decide what colors to dye this yarn, so in an ultimately quite nerdy move, I dyed them Christmas colors.

The red is destined to be a pair of Elfine socks, which I hope will look pointsetta-ish. The green is going to be Cascading Leaves socks (pattern available by joining the Townsend Socks KAL Yahoo group).

The beauty of this plan is that apart the socks don't connote Christmas necessarily, but together they do. What can I say... the Christmas season is known to provoke seasonal knitting. At least I kept the red and green in separate skeins.


Kool aid recipes:

Red: 5 packets Flavoraid Cherry, 4 Kool-aid Black Cherry, 5 Kool-aid Grape Illusion, 1 Kool-aid orange, 5 Kool-aid Cherry, 1 Kool-aid Wild Watermelon Kiwi (green). This was a way saturated solution, and the yarn did not absorb all the color.

Green: like 11 packets green (some Flavoraid, some Kool-aid), 1 Kool-aid Grape. This was all the green I had on hand. I was taking no chances with muted green. The yarn pretty much absorbed all the color.

* the Turkish cast on method can be found in the Fall 2005 Vogue Knitting, or on this internet tutorial. I followed the directions from Vogue, and found that this can indeed be used with magic loop. This makes me happy because using two circs for one sock just seems excessive.

December 4, 2005


I got some unbeleivable shades of purple while dyeing yarn with kool-aid this weekend. You would never even guess they are from something that is meant to be a beverage.


Are they not crazy lovely? I am not even a purple person, yet am nonetheless enamored with the colors and variations in these skeins (especially the darker purple). They are for a Christmas gift, but I am tempted to keep them. Its recycled wool from a sweater (the creamy yellow one in this post), and there's about a sock's worth in each skein.

Kool-aid recipes: (keep in mind I started with cream-colored, not white, wool)

Light Purple: 4 packets Flavoraid grape, plus a shake of Berry Blue.

Dark Purple: Something like 14 packets of Flavoraid grape, plus one packet of blue. I kept the water near boiling, and the yarn absorbed all the dye this time.

February 27, 2006

signal flare scarf

Tonight, while watching the finale of Lost (season 1, that is. I am way behind. holy, that show is intense. don't tell me whats going on in this season. not ready yet), I cast on and started a scarf.


The colors vary from orange to red to maroon and are very bright. Maybe not so bright as the photo, but close. Its like a signal flare.

I dyed the yarn a couple months ago. Unconvinced that true red can be had from drink mix, I left the partially-dyed yarn steaming for some time in a heavy mixture. Only parts of the skein actually touched the water, and that's where it got very red.


Its wool, knit together with some madil kid seta in the so-called scarf pattern. Absolutely unlike my normal color choices, but I must say, I do like it.



diana AT streetsandyos DOT com