Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kool Aid, that amazing substance...

It's another knitting post! (Vicki, feel free to surf on...you don't have to hang around for this!...then again, it does involve dying, so you just may want to stick around....)

I've confessed to my late night love of sock knitting...but I have a hunch that the last 12 hours are going to take my knitting to a whole new place...

I tried Kool Aid dying. In my microwave. It was so simple that I'm already contemplating more....

I started with my long time standard sock yarn. I tend to use Kroy (75% wool, 25% nylon) for most of my socks, mostly because it is easily available in this very tiny town we live in. It's the only wool that I can walk downtown and buy a skein of with reasonable faith that it will be in stock.

Yesterday I did just that. And picked up 4 packets of Kool Aid on the way home...2 blue packets, and 2 green. Imagine my surprise to open up the blue packets and have the colouring be red! Not just any red, but a really amplified, play-dough-on-steroids kind of red! Not what I was expecting (a-hem, I was expecting BLUE?), but this is all about experimentation, right? The green packets revealed - green. Whew.
I used both packets of each colour in each of the dye baths. Before I started opening packets I had prewashed and soaked my wool so I squeezed it out, put it in the dye baths ( I think there's a little more in the red than in the green), popped the whole works in the microwave, and zapped it on High for 3 minutes. I let it rest for a while, did it for 2 minutes more, rest, (during one of these rest times I moved the hot yarn more into the green, then into the red to minimize the white in the final colouration).

Things continued in this way for quite a while longer. I think I cooked everything for a total of 11 minutes (while cooking dinner on the stove) in 2 minute increments (after the first 3 minutes) until the dye bath was completely clear for the green and about as clear as it was ever going to be for the red.

After things cooled down somewhat I rinsed the hank out carefully in the sink (using similar temperature water to the temperature of the wool to avoid felting), hand washed with mild soap and rinsed again carefully.

Now I have demonstrated many times that I am not always a patient person. This may not work for all wools, but I used this drying method for mine... in front of the heater. I hung the hank on a hanger, displaced the plants from the plant stand and put the whole works in front of the heat. I rotated the hank every 1/2 hour or so, and it dryed in about 2, maybe 3 hours.

Once it was completely dry, I wound it into a rather homely centre pull skein, and cast on. This is the fastest sock pattern I know that is made using 3mm needles...I think it's called 56 stitch 56 row sock pattern, or some such. The dyed Kroy is the perfect weight for it, too.

Yes, it does smell a tiny bit like candy.

No, I did not intend to knit a pair of lime green and cherry red Christmas socks.

What I've learned?

Packaging is deceiving. Especially for powdered beverages. Blue can be Red.

Immersion dying is really, really fun.

I might have to try this with some silk...then use the Shiva paintsticks on it....

Oldest Son said,"whoa, that's cool...but I'll never drink Kool Aid!"
and "will your feet smell like fruit?"


Happy stitching,



Vicki W said...

Ha Ha. I did read it all! I can't believe how vibrant the colors are! I've seen cotton fabric dyed with Kool-Aid (the only valuable use for that stuff IMO) but they always seem to come out pale - nice colors still, but not as vibrant as yours. Your son's comments are very funny. Don't you wonder what they tell their friends about you? "You think your Mom is weird, mine knits with Kool-Aid!"

katelnorth said...

It does make you lose any desire you might have had to drink Kool-Aid. Assuming you had any to start with. Nice for yarn, though!

Quilt Pixie said...

dying with kool aid brought a smile to my face -- Many years ago my son decided to have green hair one summer and used Koolaid to dye it -- problem was he smelt of fruit all summer and the wasps loved him!

Lisa said...

What a hoot, eh? For the record, Oldest asked me to bring it to school to show his teacher...she's got me supervising the kids to doing weaving later this week out in the woods using lichens, sticks, etc., and he was hoping I could show them how to dye the jute with it!

oh- and it doesn't dye the cotton very well as it's a cellulose fibre. It's supposed to work best on protien fibres...like quilt pixie's son's hair!

Rebecca said...

Wow! Your dying is amazing! The silk scarves are really wonderful!