Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kool Aid dyes are rad!

The kitchen smells fruity, like those markers we used to have as kids-- they never really smelled like any real kind fruit, just fruity. Except for grape, fake grape always smells the same.

Yesterday was my first experiment into Kool Aid dying. I've been collecting Kool Aid packets whenever I happen to be in the grocery store and thinking about it with plans to eventually dye white recycled yarn for some gifts. But before I ruined the yarn intended for other people's projects, I figured I'd try it out on my sock yarn. Way I see it, if I can actually manage to knit myself some socks, I doubt I'll much care if they're some wierd color. Plus, nobody sees them when you wear shoes (which is why my socks rarely ever match.)

The cool thing about Kool Aid dyeing is that there are a ton of tutorials to be found! Knitty's article proved super helpful, and I even found a color chart! Armed with a little bit of knowledge, some leftover keg cups, and an big eyedropper I borrowed from Eric's airbrushing supplies, I set to work.

It turned out that completely covering my surface in saran wrap was a good plan-- I wound up spilling the grape cup while cleaning up, but the plastic wrap caught nearly all of it! Plus, it made cleaning everything up a matter of scooping up the plastic with everything in it and tossing it!

I did a little test hank by wrapping about ten loops from hand to elbow and cutting it off, then dyed that first to see how I wanted the colors placed. It seemed to come out fairly nice, so I dove into the first hank. The colors seemed to come out alright, until I started noticing that some of the yarn underneath wasn't getting fully color saturated. Adding more color helped, but it also added more water to my already brimming plate. I think I may need to use less water next time, and possibly measure out how much for a more uniform (and easily duplicated) dye job.

After a couple of minutes in the microwave, the water on the plate was clear and it looked like all the color had been sucked up, so I rinsed my yarn off and cleaned it with a little bit of shampoo. Then both the first hank and, eventually, the second one I did were left on hooks to dry in my kitchen.

I kind of cheated-- I didn't wait until my test hank was fully dry before knitting a swatch of it. I just couldn't wait to see how my colors came out! The pink lemonade color I used really wasn't as vibrant as I had hoped, and I managed to leave some pretty substantial white spots on the full hanks despite my best efforts, but all in all I think it turned out okay. The nice thing is having a photo record of the pattern I used-- I don't think those two little balls of yarn are going to be enough to make some socks, so it's nice to have a blueprint for dyeing more.

I think I may try dip dyeing next time, only using two or at most three colors instead. I can probably get some better saturation that way. For now though, it's onto socks! My feet can't wait!

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