The first day of a new year – the best day of the year! The holidays are over and the fridge is full of last night’s party food. I feel caught up with almost everything and everybody on my year-end list so this is always the day to get a good start on a new year. Some years that involves staying in nightclothes all day, reading and nibbling; when the kids were little, it was parades.
This year there’s a project dangling over me — not unfinished business exactly – more like not properly started business. It involves yarn and, like many knitting and crochet projects that involve yarn, it’s been picked up and put down many times. Today’s the day for Yarn Play.
What is Yarn Play?
I while back I realized there aren’t very many fun, yet educational projects, you can do with kids – or other adults for that matter. I was thinking back to Science Fair time in the public schools and how my kids often had fun ideas for experiments. We kicked them around the dinner table and worked on them together because we were interested to see the outcome. The fun of that process was usually overshadowed by the torture of getting them write the report and get it on a project board, but now that they are both successful young adults, I can look back wistfully to those days when playing with science was fun.
I ran across something recently that was so intriguing I had to try it and after I did, I wished I’d had a child or grandchild around to do it with me. I had some leftover natural wool yarn and was intending to dye it with tea. While looking for instructions and tips, I stumbled on the incredible dying properties of unsweetened Kool-Aid®.
I picked up some packets of Kool-Aid® and wound my yarn into skeins so I could try different flavor/color combinations based on the food dye colors listed among the ingredients. Kool-Aid® is powerful stuff! When you open a package and sprinkle it on hot wet yarn, it creates instant colors. The primary colors in the dye blend to create secondary colors and when you use several flavors, the kitchen begins to smell strangely tropical.
It was easy, inexpensive and fun. And not only was it pretty and messy, there was a lot of science to be talked about – color mixing, acid setting, natural verses acrylic fibers. I wished I’d discovered this when my kids were growing up.
Then I remembered I probably would have been too busy to gather the supplies and search out Kool-Aid® dyeing instructions then, but if there was a kit available with everything necessary to make some pretty yarn with the kids, I would have loved it. They would have too. They loved dyeing Easter eggs but never wanted to eat the eggs – this way they could keep the results. I want other people to have an easy way to play with yarn and Kool-Aid® so I’m introducing “Maker Bags” with everything you need to make a beautiful skein of yarn.
Playing with dye and yarn is fun but what can a kid do with a ball of yarn? The answer is use it to learn an enjoyable craft that may one day become a hobby.
When I was about nine-years-old, an aunt who came to visit showed me how to knit. I didn’t start turning out sweaters and socks back then, but I kept the little orange swatch I made in the top drawer of my dresser for years. Later in life, when I picked up a set of needles and set out to learn to knit, I knew I could do it — I’d done it before – and it came back comfortably.
I think crocheting is more straightforward than knitting and easier for growing hands to manage. It’s also more forgiving.
I’ve included basic crochet instructions with illustrations along with a step-by-step guide to yarn dyeing in the kit but the value in this project lies in the opportunity to experiment a little with safe materials and little guidance to create something unique and beautiful. Hopefully with someone you love.
Happy New Year to all!