Adventures in Dyeing — Episode One

15 Mar

My first few skeins of hand-spun yarn were super bulky beginner’s yarn. I had and still don’t have any idea what to do with them, but frankly, ecru is a color I don’t really do much with in general (unless it is used in colorwork — highly unlikely given the bulky nature of this yarn). So, I decided to enter into the world of non-toxic dyeing with food-grade dyes.

After doing some research on the internet, I decided that Koolaid was probably the easiest way to try dyeing. Since I didn’t have a crockpot back then and I’m not a fan of doing things that take a lot of effort, I finally found a really simple dyeing method for small skeins of one color on an internet site — making a dye-bath out of a sun tea. I didn’t know how strong the dyes would be, so I dumped a full packet of black cherry into a new 32 oz. Pyrex measuring cup hoping it would work, placed it on the windowsill for a few hours and waited. It only took about 2 hours or less for the dye bath to be exhausted, and the effect was, well, really bright.

I then tried some other colors — pink lemonade and lemonade. (I have to say that I am really limited in terms of the flavors available to me here on the westside in LA. I don’t think that many of the yuppie families drink Koolaid anymore! It wasn’t until I went to Central LA that I found a variety of fun and funky flavors to choose from…). They turned out ok — very pastel-like. I also tried grape, but only a half packet, which gave me a soft pastely purple.

Koolaid first batch

(Clockwise left to Right — Black Cherry, Pink Lemonade, Grape & Lemonade)

I have since experimented a little more with the sun-tea method for dying Koolaid solid colors. I really like the way they take on silk. The colors seem so much richer. These two small skeins were first spun from 2 -3 silk hankies each and then left in the sun.

Silk yarn

(Top — Berry Blue; Bottom — Grape, one and one half packets)

I was happy with the fact that Koolaid is so easy to work with in terms of dying and clean-up. There was little or no mess and if something spilled, it was easy to get the color out of the carpet. It was also nice to simply leave the jar on the windowsill and slowly watch the wool absorb the colors.


2 Responses to “Adventures in Dyeing — Episode One”

  1. katknit April 5, 2007 at 6:51 pm #

    Hey, your blog is really cool too – thanks for the compliment you sent earlier today. Koolaid is one of my very favorite dyes. Have you ever tried natural dyeing – plants and things?

  2. geckogrrl April 5, 2007 at 7:10 pm #

    Thanks! I haven’t tried natural dyes yet basically because I’m afraid about my cat getting into the mordants (my apt. is so small…). Hope to one day. Do you recommend anything to start with?

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