If you have any questions during this tutorial, about something I didn’t cover or explain. Please leave the question in the comment section below. I will compile the questions and answer them all on Friday in a special Q & A post.

Your Supplies:

– Your yarn samples, PRESOAKED (you will need one for each color you plan on sampling)
(Click here for instructions on how to divide one skein of yarn into samples, and click HERE for PRESOAK instructions)

– UNSWEETENED powdered drink mix packets
I am using Kool-Aid packets.

– Cups to dye in. One for each sample you want to dye, each should be at least 12 ounces, microwave safe.
I am using Solo cups, which aren’t exactly microwave safe, but will stand up to a few rounds in the microwave.

– TWO measuring cups. Both should have at least a 2-cup capacity, with milliliters printed on them.

– measuring spoon (1/2 teaspoon)

– disposable powdered latex gloves to keep from dyeing your hands (or non-latex, if you are allergic)

– water

– a place to lay the mini samples out to dry.

The reason I am starting with powdered drink mix dyes, is: 1. MANY people already own a few packets, and 2) these mixes already have their own mordant, so they are easy to start with.

A mordant is, “a substance, typically an inorganic oxide, that combines with a dye or stain and thereby fixes it in a material.” Without a mordant- you will only be staining the yarn. Mordants create a bond of yarn and dye, and (with heat) are permanent bonds.

I’m going to remind you right here that you MUST use animal fibers for this. Acrylic yarn WILL NOT WORK. Cotton yarn WILL NOT WORK. Blends that are mostly animal fibers will work, BUT your coloring will not be as deep as with 100% animal fibers.

So we’re all on the same page, yes? Okay, let’s continue.

The hardest part about most other Kool-Aid tutorials out there, is that they are not specific with exactly how much Kool-Aid you need to use. In fact- most of them don’t even mention an amount. The closest I could find, is one tutorial that uses 1-2 packets per 100-gram skein of yarn. So that’s what we’re going with- 2 packets per 100-gram skein of yarn. Each packet contains about a teaspoon of powder. So 2 teaspoons of powdered drink mix is sufficient to dye one 100-gram skein of yarn. I put it this way, because some of you may have the larger containers of powdered drink mix. So this will help you measure appropriately. If you stick to this ratio, EVEN THOUGH each flavor differs in weight- you will always get the same results.

Oh and please note that this is two teaspoons TOTAL, not two teaspoons for each color. So if you want to mix colors, or dye part of a skein one color, and part of it another color- you will need to adjust appropriately. I will include the formula to make Kool-Aid dye stock at the end of this post. (What is dye stock? It’s basically just converting dry measurements into liquid, thus making measuring easier.)

So for the 11 yard sample (remember- I’m working with worsted weight. Your yardage may be different), you will need 1/2 gram of Kool-Aid. This is about 1/5th of a teaspoon. My suggestion is to fill your 1/2 teaspoon to a little less than halfway.

Put that in your dye cup.

(Yeah- it’s not a lot. In fact- you’re probably thinking that it’s not enough to dye your big ball of a sample. It is. Just trust me.)

Add warm water and stir until the powder is completely dissolved. (Warm water seems to dissolve powder better than cold.) Add more water, until your cup is about 3/4ths of the way full. The amount of water in terms of dye DOES NOT MATTER. The water is simply a conduit for heat, and you need heat for the bonding process. Now your drink mix already contains more than enough citric acid, which is your mordant, and is what bonds the dye to the yarn.

Now- take your PRESOAKED yarn sample and squeeze the presoak water out of it. It doesn’t need to be dry, just not dripping. Once your cup is 75% full of colored dye water, add your yarn sample. You can gently push it down into the cup with a spoon, but DO NOT STIR. When your yarn is completely submerged, put it in the microwave.

Microwave on HIGH in 30-second increments, until steaming. Do not microwave for more than 4 minutes. Remove cup carefully. (It’s HOT!)

The water in the cup should be clear or almost clear. (This is called exhausting the dye bath.)

If it is not clear- your problem could be one of a few reasons. 1. You have hard water. Minerals in water will keep your dye from bonding with your yarn. This is the reason that most dyers will use filtered or distilled water. Red dye is notorious for not bonding in hard water. 2. You were heavy-handed with measuring your powder. Your yarn can only absorb soo much dye, before it just stops absorbing. 3. You didn’t get it hot enough. If you didn’t see steam coming out of the cup- you need to nuke it again. 4. Turquoise (blue) is really bad about being slow to bond. So anything with blue in it (green… purple…black, etc) will take longer to absorb all the dye. It might need another few rounds in the microwave. Let it cool COMPLETELY, and check the water, BEFORE you nuke it again.

Let your sample cool COMPLETELY before you rinse. Rinse the sample in cool tap water. (If you are using 100% wool, and are worried about felting- fill a container with cool water, and gently lay the sample in the water and let it sit a few minutes.)

If the rinse water runs clean- all the dye bonded and you are done! You can lay your sample out to dry. Repeat with other flavors, if you like.

That’s it! See- that wasn’t hard. It takes longer to read it, than it does to do it.

Here are my samples after rinsing:

Yes- it is a composite of three separate photos.

Wet yarn will always look darker than dry yarn, so here are my samples dry:

Once dry- they are ready to be used!  The Kool-Aid smell will fade in a few days.  Your sample size will be an accurate representation of the color you would get, if you dyed a whole 100-gram skein of yarn with 2 packets of this flavor.

Remember- if you have questions, please put them in the comments below.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Day Two: Liquid Food Coloring!


Kool-Aid Dye Stock

You will need
– One 16 ounce container (I just use empty soda bottles)
– Kool-Aid packets (If you plan to do just one skein- you only need two packets. If you plan to do 5 skeins of yarn – that’s 10 packets of Kool-Aid)
– one measuring cup (2 cup capacity with milliliters on it.)
– funnel
– hot water

I’m going to do this, so that you will be able to mix and match dye stocks using the same measurements. There’s nothing wrong with using Kool-Aid and acid dyes together. In fact- Kool-Aid IS acid dye. Just at a lower concentration, and with a few more things added in. The only reason they are called acid dye, is that you need ACID as your mordant. It’s just letting you know up front.

Now citric acid is a food (you find it in fruit), so your dye stock will not last very long. Probably only a week or so. So only mix up a large amount if you will be doing your dyeing relatively soon.

Your 16 ounce container holds 500 ml (milliliters) of liquid. You will be mixing 2 teaspoons of powdered drink mix into 100 ml of hot water. If you want to fill the container- that’s 10 packets mixed completely into 500 ml of hot water (in your measuring cup).

Use the funnel to pour from the measuring cup into the soda bottle (or whatever you’re using). Let it cool, then you cap it.

You can refrigerate this mixture, but make sure no one drinks it! It will probably just be a bad case of indigestion; but it’s much more concentrated than the drinking version, which is one packet to 2 quarts of water. Refrigeration will probably give you another week or so of viability.

If your dye stock starts growing mold- you will need to pour it out, wash the container well, and make new stock.

Using Kool-Aid dye stock- 100 milliliters of dye stock will dye one 100-gram skein of yarn.

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