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How to Dye Yarn At Home Using Koolaid

I like to participate in swaps. It makes me happy to give gifts (I’ve been known to over-stress during the holidays) and I feel like doing internet swaps gives me an excuse to craft at home. It is also really fun to get gifts in the mail too. My most frequented swaps are from Reddit Gifts, but I do sign up for Cara Box Exchanges and other similar bloggy exchanges as well. My most recent successful exchange was the Yarn Swap through Reddit.

The reason this was so exciting for me is because I had already stocked the necessary supplies to dye my own yarn at home before the yarn exchange was even announced. I had the perfect excuse now to just do it! So I spent an entire weekend creating some lovely yarn for Lauren in Missouri. It was such a fun project, and she loved them!

Want to know my secret? Koolaid, my friend. You heard me right. I first heard about it on a co-op where I’m buying some natural wool yarn for cheap. When I looked it up, I found a fabulous color wheel and break down of some different processes. So I figured, “Hey, I can totally do that!” So I did. And here’s how!

I started with Lion’s Brand Fisherman’s Natural Wool Yarn, which is fairly cheap if purchased off Amazon. You can also find it at some craft stores, but any light-colored. Just keep in mind what you’d like to do with the yarn. And as a general rule, if you start with a grey or light tan color you’ll get a less vibrant color (which could be ideal depending on what you want).

First you have to wrap the yarn in a way where it can be equally introduced to the colors. I used my coffee table to create two skeins from the one 8.0 ounce bundle of Fisherman’s. You can do it however you please, this is just the easiest way for me to spread it out and get an even bundle. (I used my MIRA scale to weigh out one 3 ounce and one 5 ounce skein.)

bundle yarn soak yarn

Next you should soak the yarn so it’s already wet which makes it easier to dye. I used my bath tub to allow for some free movement. The photo above (on the right) shows my yarn in the middle of the process. The middle parts are ready, but the lighter parts near the edge is not. You want the whole bundle of yarn to look like spaghetti.

The next step is to take your yarn and bring it into your kitchen. I used a plastic pitcher so the yarn could still soak while I got my dye bath ready. For the smaller skein I wanted a gradient yarn: red, purple, blue. I used the dip dye method.

heat koolaid dye double gradient

For each color you want to bring your pot of water to a simmer with several packages of Koolaid. For the red I used Cherry flavor and for the blue I used Blue Raspberry. I simply dipped the red first all the way, then slowly brought it up and out creating a gradient. I rinsed under cold water until the run off was clear. Then I readied my blue and did the same thing.

Once I was finished with both colors and was sure that the dye was set (clear run off), I draped it over a hanger and spread it out to dry.

pretty yarn

You can see how there are areas that are red and areas that are blue, but plenty of variation in between. That’s exactly what I wanted so I was pleased as punch with my results!

For the 5 ounce skein I wanted to do a pastel rainbow. I was going to “paint” this one, and I wanted to try using food coloring. Please note that the food coloring did not take very well. Food coloring is in the cups of the photo below, but rest assured I did the same thing with Koolaid afterwards and got much better results.

dying rainbow yarn

So I just mixed a packet of Koolaid with a cup of water and poured it directly onto the yarn. I used my fingers to work in the color and to create soft lines where two colors meet. I then rinsed it (quickly because you don’t want too much running!) with cold water and hung it up to dry as well.

Since I was mailing them, I wanted to make sure they were totally dry before packing them up. After the first night they were still slightly damp so I left them for another whole day. Essentially, both skeins took about 2 days to completely dry.

rainbow yarn

Here’s my rainbow yarn before wrapping it up. The yellow could have used two packets because the Lemonade flavor of Koolaid was a tad weak. But I am very pleased with the overall result. I can’t wait to get my yarn from the co-op to dye and crochet soakers! *squee*

pretty dyed yarn

Tips for dying yarn at home using Koolaid:

  • Fruit Punch flavor is in a blue package. It is NOT blue, it is red. For blue you need Blue Raspberry.
  • Although food coloring, in my experience, does not yield good results you can add id to Koolaid to create a bolder color. Koolaid has awesome amounts of citric acid to let this happen.
  • A general rule of thumb is 1 to 2 packages per ounce yarn.
  • Different methods of dying will give you different shades. Dip dying uses heat which is why my first skein is so bold. The painted yarn is lighter because there was very little heat involved (just hot tap water to dissolve the Koolaid).

If you’ve used this method, please use the comments to share your experience. If you have other methods of dying yarn you find to produce more results, please let me know!

 

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Comments

  1. I love this idea! Your yarn turned out beautiful! This looks like a fun project to work on.

  2. So pretty! Love this idea! You may have just inspired me to actually pick up my knitting needles again!

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