Dyeing Yarn with Kool-Aid®

Dyeing yarn is a slow process. If you hurry it along, you’ll probably mess it up so take your time and use your imagination. The time between the busy, messy parts can be used to learn a few crochet basics so you’ll be ready to use your yarn as soon as it is dry.

yarn soaking

Guidelines

Soak yarn in warm water

Submerge a hank/skein of yarn in a bowl filled with enough warm water to cover it. Push it into the water gently to get the air out but don’t squeeze or wring it. Let it soak for at least half an hour.

Note: Although some dye processes require an acidic element to set the dye and often call for vinegar in the soak or dye bath, Kool-Aid®  contains plenty of citric acid so there’s no need to add vinegar.

Choose the best pan for the dye bath

Once your yarn has soaked, it will be ready for the dye bath. Select a large metal pan with a flat bottom – a large frying pan or Dutch oven will work best.

Boil some water

You will want the yarn to swirl loosely in shallow water so the dye can surround the wet yarn when you transfer it from the bowl – see next step; start with about 1 – 1 ½ inches of water. Bring it to a boil, then turn off the stove. Don’t worry about staining or contaminating the pan – it will clean up easily.

yarn in pan

Move the yarn to the hot water

Using tongs, grasp the skein of yarn in the bowl close to one of the white ties and gently lift it from the bowl of water, letting it drip a few moments. Carefully lower the wet yarn into the pan of hot water taking care not to splash. Try to keep the hank loosely coiled in one layer on the bottom of the pan. It should look a little like cooked spaghetti. You can add more water or take some out if it looks like too much. You want the dye to settle on the yarn.

Turn the stove back on and bring the pot of yarn to a simmer, then turn it off again.

light colors first

Add the Kool-Aid®  carefully and creatively

Wearing gloves* and starting with the lightest color — usually pineapple, peach mango or green apple – open the Kool-Aid®  packets and sprinkle the powder on the yarn, following the path of the coil. Be creative!

Each packet of Kool-Aid®  is colored with one or more primary colors of non-toxic food dye. It is important not to mix more than two primary colors in the same dye bath if you want pretty, bright hues. If you mix all three primary colors, your dye bath might turn a muddy color.

The brightest color combinations for dyeing using Kool-Aid®  are blue and yellow, which make a variety of greens when combined, and red and yellow which make various shades of orange. Blue and red make deep, dark purples — pretty, but lacking the bright hues the yellow adds.

*The dye is harmless but will color your hands and be difficult to wash with soap and water.

build colors

If you want dappled or splotchy colors, don’t stir or move the pan. When it looks right, walk away. Let the yarn soak in the dye bath for at least 45 minutes.

For a solid color, gently stir the yarn, then swish it around occasionally.

Rinse and dry the yarn

Taking care not to disturb the yarn too much, move the pan to the sink and pour the water down the drain. Turn on the tap and cover the yarn with cold water. Swish the yarn gently, then drain and repeat until the water is clear.

rinse yarn

Taking care not to disturb the yarn too much, move the pan to the sink and pour the water down the drain. Turn on the tap and cover the yarn with cold water. Swish the yarn gently then drain and repeat until the water is clear.

DO NOT WRING OR TWIST THE YARN! You can tilt the pan and press the yarn against the bottom and side or wrap the yarn in an absorbent towel and squeeze. Remove as much water as you can without stretching or twisting the hank. Use an old towel just in case the dye has not been rinsed completely.

yarn drying

Lay the hank on a dry towel and let it dry completely. Overnight is good.