Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Multi Color Sun Dyed Yarn With Kool Aid

Okay, I'm sure my neighbors think I'm crazy.  I've been outside with bowls of Kool Aid and yarn all over the porch, yard and walkway.  Then there's been yarn hanging from the tree to dry.....and don't forget me and my camera!  Here's the results of this week's experiments to create multi-colored sun dyed yarn using kool aid, water, and vinegar.

Last week, I posted how to sun dye wool yarn with Kool Aid.  If you missed that post, you can find it here.  It's easy, fun, inexpensive and doesn't require any fancy or special tools or supplies.

Okay, back on topic:  sun dying yarn so you produce a multi-colored yarn.  Let's take a look at the different methods I tried  (my hanks of yarn were about 20 yards each):

Method 1:
 I placed my soaked yarn in a pyrex bowl with 2 cups water and 1 tbsp of white vinegar.  I then sprinkled lemonade Kool Aid on one side and cherry on the other.  It started out great but if you look at the bottom left photo, you will see that after 2 hours, the cherry Kool Aid had taken over.  The final yarn did not come out as half yellow and half red, and I had planned, but rather a subtle half red/half orangy yarn.  Still pretty, just not what I expected.

Method 2:
 In this method, I used a superwash 100% wool that I had leftover from another project.  Anyway, I placed two bowls with 1 cup water and 1 Tbsp white vinegar in each side by side.  I then draped my yarn so that it would be both bowls.  I then sprinkled 1 packet of lemonade in one bowl and 1 packet of pink lemonade in the other. The color did not blend well (see top photo) so I used a spoon to gently stir each bowl (the lower left photo is the result of this stirring).  I had thought that the colors would wick up the center and I would have a yellow/orange/pink yarn.  The superwash wool does not seem to wick as well and the colors were somewhat spotty.  I believe this is a result of using superwash wool.  

Method 3:
 I started with two bowls that each had 1 cup of water and 1 Tbsp white vinegar.  Before adding the yarn, I mixed mango/peach Kool Aid in one bowl.  I then placed my yarn in both bowls:  half in each one.  I kept the one half in the water/vinegar mix so that the yarn would stay wet.  If you look at the top photo, you can see how the yellow is wicking up.  After 1 hour, I lifted the non-dyed half out of the water and stirred in berry blue Kool Aid in the second bowl.  I then placed the yarn in the second color.  This yarn worked out as I had envisioned:  yellow/green/blue.

Method 4:
 With this method, I had two measuring cups prepared with 1 packet Kool Aid (fruit punch in one and lemonade in the other), 1 Tbsp vinegar, and 1-2 cups of water.  I then placed my soaked yarn half into each cup.  Look how the red jumped over from one cup to the other.  Because of this transfer, I removed the yarn before the remaining color was clear (I didn't want a yarn that turned out the same as method 1).  This resulted in a yellow/orange/pink yarn.

Method 4 - More Results
You can't tell by the picture but the top left was my attempt to create a red, white and blue yarn.  The bowls were not filled and there was a fair amount of "white" yarn.  Well, as you can see, the red bled over again.  The right picture was my attempt to make a pink/white/red yarn.  As with the other experiments, the red bled over and created a very subtle red/pink yarn.

 Here are some of my experiments all wound into skeins.  Pretty cool...huh?

This is definitely a fun activity.  Some take-aways for you.
  • Superwash 100% wool does work...but it seems to work best if the Kool Aid/water/vinegar mixture is prepared ahead of time.  Also, it seems that superwash wool does not wick up the color much so you will probably get a white streak.
  • Dark red Kool Aid mixes (cherry, fruit punch) tend to wick up the most.  They probably have the highest concentration of dye in the mix and so you may want to have a ratio of 2 packets of a lighter colored Kool Aid to 1 packet of a red Kool Aid....and use more yarn.  
  • I find the best method is method 3.  If you would like to have a larger "mix" area you can have say 2/3 of the yarn soaking in the lighter color for the 1st hour.  Then, when you stir up the darker colored Kool Aid, place 2/3 of the yarn in that bowl (1/3 is un-dyed and 1/3 is dyed with the lighter color).
Have fun!

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