The Electric Kool-Aid Yarn Test

I was checking out of my local Stop&Shop. There was a big corrugated dump bin of Kool-Aid on sale. Five packets for a buck. I have wanted to try dyeing wool with Kool-Aid for years. Suddenly it seemed the moment had come. Who could resist this kind of kismet?

I bought five packages and headed home with a sense of high anticipation.

Several years ago Knit Picks came out with what they called Bare Yarn. The idea was to buy undyed yarn and have some fun dyeing it and knitting something truly original. It became my Christmas present to a couple of my friends and I, of course, had to buy a skein for myself. This is what I planned to use with my newly-purchased Kool-Aid.

Saturday was gloomy, but I was in fine spirits. Just after lunch, I cleared the table in the kitchen in the country and began disaster-aversion preparations. Jim’s dubiousness at the potential mess I was going to make was only matched by his impatience at my constantly talking about dyeing my yarn with Kool- Aid. He actually rolled his head and groaned at one point. Time to be quiet, Jen.

I had read several blog posts and watched a YouTube video on the process so I was pretty clear. After spreading one sheet of plastic on the table followed by a layer of paper town and another layer of plastic, I constructed a dike of paper towels around the edge of the table for spillage. I don’t know what cascades of indelible color I had in my mind, but I was bound and determined not to make one of my usual messes. Especially not in our gorgeous still-feels-like-new kitchen.

After thoroughly soaking my skein of sock wool in tepid water, I wrung it out and laid it on the table. In retrospect I wish I had re-tied the skein into a long snake of yarn, but I can do that next time. Ought to be able to really make a tangle doing that.

I used a kitchen knife in an attempt to demarcate colors. I would pour some Kool-Aid, massage it into the wool and hold the knife to keep the colors from commingling. I had on plastic gloves and carefully rinsed my hands between colors. This was a high degree of precision compared to my slap dash tendencies.

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After applying the colors and massaging them through the yarn, I wrapped it in saran wrap. I wasn’t sure if the colors would bleed onto each other so I wrapped it so sections wouldn’t touch. To set the color I placed the yarn wrapped in saran into a pyrex dish with cover and microwaved for two minutes, let it rest, another two minutes in the wave, a rest and one last zap in the wave. Then I let the whole thing sit and cool. Amazingly, when the yarn has absorbed the color all of the water is clear. I carefully rinsed the yarn in tepid water and there was no color bleeding whatsoever. After gently wringing out the water and rolling the yarn up in an old towel, I hung it to dry.

Considering that I adore color and I adore yarn, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I absolutely adored dyeing my yarn with Kool-Aid. My finished result has that tie-dyed look to it. I could have used more Kool Aid for better color saturation, but I like the way it looks. I like the bits of undyed white and the mottled color. I would like to try using different colors and the grape section is my least favorite. I can’t wait to try it again. I really can’t wait to start a pair of socks and see how it knits up!!


One Comment to “The Electric Kool-Aid Yarn Test”

  1. Never heard of dying with kool aide, sounds neat but I am sure I woud make an incredible mess. Everytime I read one of your letters about knitting I want to start knitting again. Only a vivid memory of my past knitting projects restrains me.
    Talked to Ferd yesterday. He’s bringing dinner Saturday evening. Today he flies to St. Louis for the temple service where I think he reads Bobbies name and birthday. I know nothing about that tradition but plan to ask a Jewish friend. It seems very important to Ferd so I’d like to know more. If I find anything out I’ll share with you. 🙂 In the meantime we’ll hold tight to our Bobbie memories. 🙂

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