Ghetto Juice RULES!

So, I finally tried my hand at dyeing last weekend. I chose the safest route possible... KA soft drink powder. Well, I dunno if was beginner's luck or a happy accident, but I got this yummy hank of autumnal variegation:
Gaining some self confidence, I attempted a couple of hanks in a coordinating, rusty red:
Lastly, I tried my hand at turquoise for a different project:
I'm really quite amazed at how rich the colors came out and the depth that was achieved. I (wrongly) assumed I would only be able to get jelly bean colors. I used a DK superwash, unbleached, merino wool. There are a TON of tutorials online, but I did it the easy way. First, I filled a large glass mixing bowl with boiling water from the kettle. I then added the drink mix powder (2 packs to start with) and stirred until dissolved. Next I added the pre-soaked wool and added a bit of white vinegar. The drink mix has an intrinsically low pH that acts as its own mordant so the addition of the acetic acid was probably superfluous—but comforting nonetheless. I also added a couple of teaspoons of salt just for good measure. I mixed the wool around a bit with a gloved hand until the water was clear. I added additional drink mix as needed. I ended up using about 4 packs each for the 50 gram hanks of turquoise and red. Trick—if you want that "Malabrigo" multi-tonal look of the red, don't pre-wet the wool. When I was finished with the dye, I then placed the wool in tepid water in the sink with a drop of dishwashing liquid, rinsed and hung to dry. That's it! Cheap. Easy. Quick. FUN.

Unfortunately Suki was not so impressed, but still waited patiently for her afternoon walk...


Crafty Andy's picture

smalltownknitguy's picture

Beautiful work! I will have to try this sometime.

Craig's picture

Suki had better watch out or she may be next.
The yarn turned out great.

Have been knitting for years. I knit continually then will try another craft, but will return to the needles.

TheKnittingMill's picture

I have to admit that the thought did cross my mind for about a half a second...ok, so maybe for a few seconds longer than that, but luckily for Suki the rational part of my brain kicked in.

The Knitting Mill

Kerry's picture

Beautiful results Mill, and I'd say it was more natural talent than beginner's luck.

AKQGuy's picture

They are all beautiful, but I must say that I truly love that first one. Awesome job! When I attack this project I'll be bugging you.

TheKnittingMill's picture

Feel free to bug away! Again, it was an experiment, so I'm not so sure I can recreate the first hank, but I'm going to try next week. If I do, then I have a SUPER EASY method of achieving it and will definitely share!
The Knitting Mill

ronhuber's picture

Absolutely beautiful. The first is my favourite.

TheKnittingMill's picture

Thanks too!
The Knitting Mill

purlyman's picture

Wow! That's amazing - it looks great! I have to try it too. So KA has "soft drink" mixes? Do those mixes work differently than the regular KA flavors? Thanks for including the pic of Suki. Kenneth enjoyed those. :-) Brady is planning on doing a KA dyeing class at the Men's Rocky Mountain Knitting Retreat. Looks like a blast!! Another question - any different between regular and sugar-free mixes? Maybe a stupid question.


AKQGuy's picture

Stupid? Nah, the difference between sugar and the artificial sweetner may alter your pH which I would think may effect the pigment pick up and how you may want to treat the dying process with additional or less vinegar. I'm glad to hear the retreat will have a class because I'm definitely interested.


purlyman's picture

I guess I forgot that KA originally came unsweetened and awfully bitter. So maybe that's what you use? I also realized when I was walking Kenneth this morning that Brady's planning on a food color class, not a KoolAid class. Either way, totally fun!


TheKnittingMill's picture

That's not a stupid question at all, because I wondered the same thing. I used the old bitter packs that you referred to without sugar or artificial sweetener. I think you get 8 for a $1.00 USD if I remember correctly. I used 4 packs of "Berry Blue" for each 50 gm hank of the turquoise. I used 2 packs for each 25 gram hank of the red. I actually did use some food coloring in addition to the KA for the 1st hank. Here's how I did it:

-Poured boiling water from kettle into bowl
-dissolved 3 packs of "Cherry Red", 2T of vinegar, 1T salt
-added DRY, 100 gm hank of SW wool
-stirred until clear
-poured 2 pack of lemon lime over top
-stirred until clear
-from here I started using food coloring adding a few drops of desired color at a time on top of the wool and stirred until water was clear
I did change out the water once (when clear) to maintain the hot temperature. I also added a bit more vinegar and a couple of tbsps of salt when I switched to food coloring. I know this method is very unconventional, but the proof is in the pudding. I think it was successful and didn't end up a muddy, grey-brown for a few key reasons:
-I used a natural wool that started out a beige color, so I got richer colors than if I would have used white
-The wool was superwash. The processing causes the wool to soak up color like nobody's business.
-I did remain mindful of the colors I was mixing and repositioning the hank with the largest areas of holidays to the surface in order to hit those areas with the concentrated dye before mixing.
-I do have some base in color theory from art school and dyeing hair for almost 20 years (I used to be a stylist, and still do hair for family and friends).

The Knitting Mill

Very beautiful! I tried using unsweetened KA without reading anything on the web and without any background in color theory and got terrible results.
Here are some mistakes that fools like me make:
1. I tried overdying, the idea was to create a bluish tint to the preexisting gray.
2. I used knitted, felted fabric. I used too small a volume and the mittens soaked up the dye so rapidly that I got super-blotchy results, because there was no dye left for the last parts of the mittens.
3. I then tried to cover up my mistakes with a darker contrasting color. Result: my son's mittens look as if he tried to stab someone in the heart with an icepick and blood gushed all over his mittens. Perfect for the Cohen brothers, but my son isn't trying out for a part in one of their movies.

Moral: Listen to Mill

potterdc's picture

Ok, I'm sorry about your son's gloves, but your description has me laughing out loud over my morning coffee!!! :-)

Think less, enjoy it more.

TheKnittingMill's picture

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

A dear friend of mine did extensive dying with KA, using all of the types available. Her best results were from the unsweetened kind. She didn't use vinegar or salt as mordants but there doesn't seem to be any harm in doing so. You certainly got some great results, Mill. KA can also be used for solar dyeing - just mix it up in a glass jar [you can use cold water, if desired] add the wet wool and put it into the sun for most of the day. I imagine a hot pavement - or automobile hood - reflecting the heat back will hasten the process. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Heard about KA dying years ago, but never used it. I was heavily into gathering roots and berries and leaves, boiling up dye potions and using that on my hand-spun yarn. My colors tended to be in the yellow to green to beige colorway. was fun to dye in the old fashioned way----If I dye wool again, I'm going to go for the KA----you came up with some wonderful colors.