I had been wanting to dye yarn with kool-aid for a while now so when one of the local craft shops had a sell on yarn I decided to buy 4 skeins of wool yarn to dye. I knew that I wanted to dye the yarn in a gradient from pink to blue to crochet into a shawl. I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to get started!
But then I actually read the label on my wool yarn and it was only 20% wool and 80% acrylic! Everything that I have read about dying yarn with kool-aid says that acrylic will not absorb the color so I decided to test a sample of my “wool” yarn.
And to my amazement it worked! (The white yarn showing in the picture is a 100% acrylic yarn that I used to tie the sample.)
TIP: Not all yarn fibers will absorb kool-aid. Natural fibers work best like wool, silk, alpaca, etc
Experiment and if you aren’t sure that a blended yarn will work test it first. I recommend testing the colors on a small piece of yarn anyway so that you know you will get the color you want.
The next day I got started dying my yarn.
- Yarn (Wool or other natural fiber)
- Kool-Aid (or other unsweetened drink mix)
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 quart pot
- Disposable gloves
- Plastic hangers
- Mixing utensil
Step 1: I used my yarn swift to turn the skeins of yarn into hanks so that the kool-aid would be easier to absorb.
TIP 1: I made my hanks very small because I originally thought that I could fit them into jars to dye them. This worked fine but if you want to twist them into pretty skeins later for pictures than the hanks will have to be rewound into larger hanks later.
TIP 2: If you do not have a yarn swift you can use your arms or the back of a chair.
Step 2: I soaked each hank of yarn in a bowl of water for about 10 minutes each.
Step 3: When the yarn was almost done soaking I got the dye bath ready.
TIP 1: Use the unsweetened kool-aid, do not use the kool-aid that already has sugar added. To know what color it will be, look at the color of the glass the Kool-aid man is holding. Other unsweetened powdered drink mixes will work too.
TIP 2: I used about 1 ½ quarts of water.
TIP 3: Blue yarn = 4 packets of Blue Raspberry Lemonade
Blue/Purple yarn = 2.5 packets of Blue Raspberry Lemonade and 2.5 packets of Pink Lemonade
Pink/Purple yarn = 4.5 packets of Pink Lemonade and almost 1 packet of Blue Raspberry Lemonade and 1 pinch of Strawberry
Pink yarn = 4 packets of Pink Lemonade (I accidentally used strawberry first and rinsed it out quickly but it still turned darker than just using the Pink Lemonade. Woops!)
TIP 4: Different yarns will absorb the kool-aid differently so use my measurements as a very loose guide.
TIP 5: The general rule is 1 packet of kool-aid per 1 ounce of yarn.
Step 4: Then I lightly squeezed out the excess water and gently placed the wet hank of yarn in the dye bath. I cooked the yarn for about 30 minutes on medium heat.
TIP: Keep an eye on the cooking yarn and do not let the water boil. Steaming is good though.
Step 5: After cooking the yarn, I took it off of the hot eye and let it cool for about 40 minutes.
TIP: After the water has cooled the water should be clear or close to it. The water may even be clear before the water has cooled. Some colors have a milky look to them, if so, the water will be white or cloudy, not as clear.
Step 6: After the yarn has cooled down I rinsed it out under the sink with warm water and then I hung it up to dry.
TIP 1: Gloves and old clothes, shoes, etc
TIP 2: Cold water will shock the wool yarn. Use water that is about room temperature.
TIP 3: I used plastic hangers to hang my yarn and I hung them on the rod in my shower. This worked really well.
TIP 4: The citric acid in the kool-aid sets the dye so that the yarn shouldn’t run or rinse out in future washes.
TIP 5: I took my time and dyed one hank of yarn at a time. I would soak a hank of yarn in water while I dyed a hank, then after I rinsed and hung up that hank I had just dyed I would get the next dye bath ready and place the freshly soaked hank in it.
After the yarn dried I rewound the small hanks into larger hanks so that I could take pictures of the pretty twisted skeins. I was so happy with how gorgeous they turned out! I love the colors and they are still so soft and the yarn even smells like kool-aid, yummy! Not to mention my house smells like kool-aid too!
Step 7: Then I wound my beautifully dyed yarn into cakes so that I could start crocheting.
TIP: To see my picture tutorial on how to wind yarn with a yarn swift and winderclick here.
Step 8: Crochet or knit away!!! Have fun!
I crocheted my yummy yarn into a beautiful shawl and I am so pleased with it! I used a free pattern by Red Heart called The Graceful Shell Shawl. My yarn still smells like kool-aid and with the light pinks and blues it reminds me of cotton candy so I decided to name my shawl, My Cotton Candy Shawl.
Full blog on My Cotton Candy Shawl coming soon!
I hope this is helpful and it makes you want to try dying yarn. It is so much fun, you'll love it too!