Monday, August 23, 2010

Dying Wool with Kool-Aid

I've been experimenting with dyeing some of our Mohair and Angora. I started researching natural dyes and while I was thinking onion peels and berry juices there is a lot of people out there who use Kool-Aid of all things. Kool-Aid is a permanent dye that is fairly non-toxic and there is enough acid in the mix to where you don't have to use a mordant.
I tried a few different things, I dyed spun yarn, roving and raw fleece. All took the dye extremely well. I mixed a few packets together because I was looking for more of a warm rich color so I blended two packs of Black Cherry, with two packs of Orange to get this rusty red color. Interestingly, the Angora picked up more of a blue pigment than the Mohair.
I sat the yarn in a couple inches of water and slowly heated it on the stove top just before the boiling point. Then I added the packets of Kool-Aid and kept it at a simmer for a minute or so. Then I covered the pot and left the yarn for 30 minutes. When I checked the pot the yarn had absorbed all the dye and the water was clear.
Then I left the yarn soak in the pot until the water had cooled to room temperature then I rinsed the yarn and squeezed it gently.

Then I laid it on my drying rack to dry.

I feel like a lot of the process is trial and error but the basic principles are the same. There is a really good website that gives examples of the colors you can achieve with each flavor of Kool-Aid.
You can also use food coloring to dye yarn but you have to use vinegar to add acid to the dye to give it more sticking power. In the future I would like to start using plants and berries. My friend Camille gave me a magazine with many suggestions using herbs and wild plants. When I try, it I'll let you know how it went.

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