Saturday, April 09, 2005

Kool-Aid ... not just for the kids anymore.

The totally cool Kool-Aid dyed wool yarn. Posted by Hello

Okay, here's my totally non-technical instructions for dying. I'm going to publish them and then let Liz, our resident expert dyer woman have at them and let me know what's wrong with them.

What you need:

1. Something to dye: 100% wool or silk. This process will not work on cotton so don't even go there.

2. Something to dye in: the biggest pot you got. You want stainless steel or something along that line. I understand cast iron, copper or alumimum will affect the colouring. Unlike virtually all other dyes known to humankind, Kool-aid is a food safe item and the dye (food colouring) is not toxic, so you can use the kitchen ware. You don't need a seperate dedicated dye pot for this process although, I will warn you, you'll end up with a little temporary stain on the inside of your pot that goes away in a few washings.

3. Something to dye with: Kool-aid. By the way, the no name stuff works just as well. Lots of Kool-aid -- I use 9 - 10 packages of it per skein of yarn but I don't speak "subtle". You can go all one colour, or mix and match or make your own colour combos. Avoid the "magic colour changing Kool-aids". They are useless...and oh, do I need to mention, it's the unsweetened stuff -- the little packages? Like we all needed to spend 80 hours of our lives washing the sugar out of that mess. Jell-o, like I've seen on some websites???? You've got to be kidding.

4. Something to fix the dye with: in this case, good old fashioned household vinegar.

5: Some odds and sods: a long handled spoon for stirring, gloves if you have a wedding/christening/fancy dress party to attend in the next few days and if you have no burning desire to show up with green spots on your hand; a timer and 4-6 lengths of old junk yarn, acrylic is fine, it's just to tie the skein and a minor amount of dish detergent.

6. A nice tall gin and tonic, with a twist of lime. Or lemon if you're so inclined. [Ed. note: the actual choice of beverage can be seasonally adjusted without any adverse effect on the yarn or its subsequently colouration.]

The pre-process:

There are two goals here in prepping the yarn for dying. One is to ensure it is clean and free of grease (which will interfer with the dye process) and secondly, to ensure the dye can get to all parts of the yarn or at least to the parts you want it to get to.

Tie it off: I take my skein of yarn and loosely tie it in 4 to 6 places with small pieces of acrylic yarn. Basically, it's a "Figure 8" through the skein. Key thing, keep it loosey-goosey. If you tie it off too tightly, you'll end up with a blank spot in your yarn, cool if you planned it, annoying as hell otherwise.

Clean it up: You may get away without doing this step but if your yarn has been manhandled and fondled and otherwise molested, which will happen in direct proportion to how soft and fuzzy-wuzzy it is, the natural oils from the hands will be transferred to the yarns. The very thing that makes the CSI types all happy, will make your life unhappies. Place the yarn in a large quantity of luke-cool water, add a couple of drops of dish wash detergent and agitate gently. Rinse with larger quantities of luke-cool water and let it all soak for a half hour or so.

If you think your yarn is clean enough, put it in a large bowl of water and let soak for half hour or so. You realize, this very important step is a key opportunity for the essential step of any craft project, namely, refilling the large glass of gin and tonic, and sitting on your backside, feet on a stool, reading a cheesy novel, preferably while hubby makes supper and/or dinner reservations.

Tomorrow, we'll get to the actual dye process. In the meanwhile, thanks for reading


At 4:48 p.m., April 10, 2005, Blogger Liz said...

for those of us without a husband to make dinner and or reservations call the best friend and lament that you have no husband/ or reservations. this solves the drinking alone problem as any decent friend will pour themselves a drink and explain ONCE again just why you have no husband. It will come of course in the form of you were much too good for him and his girlfriend. h by the way check to make sure the gloves have no holes in them. I attended my childhood friends wedding with purple hands due to a tie dye experience gone horribly wrong, that wee pinhole in the middle finger sure caused an interesting stir......oh well it was a mirimichi wedding.


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