I'm Dyeing!

Over the holidays I purchased several skeins of Elsebeth Lavold's Angora "smoke" at a greatly reduced price. It is a worsted weight, classic plied yarn composed of 60% angora, 20% wool and 20% nylon.

Unfortunately, it was an odd color, not quite grey, not quite tan. The longer that I had the yarn, the less I liked the color. I looked into the possibility of dyeing the yarn and found instructions on using Kool-Aid as a dye.

This weekend I decided to try it out. The process was extremely simple. And the result, absolutely satisfying. I went to the store and got orange Kool-Aid and grape Kool-Aid and dyed small pieces of the yarn to see which I preferred. I liked the result of both colors. Because the yarn was already a color, the rich, saturated colors of the Kool-Aid became deeper and more earthy. The orange Kool-Aid created a bright rust colored yarn. The grape Kool-Aid created a deep plum-purple. I ended up choosing the grape to dye the rest of the skeins, as I have a nice mohair yarn that would go very well with the angora to make a comfy neck warmer.

If you are using a 100% wool, all you need is Kool-Aid and water. But, because the angora yarn, like lots of angora, was blended with nylon, I added vinegar to help with the dyeing. Nylon, unlike most other synthetics, can be dyed if an acidic agent is added. I used vinegar to help make the yarn more porous and allow the dye to soak into the yarn.

If you haven't tried Kool-Aid dyeing or have been afraid to try it. I highly recommend giving it a try. It is a lot of fun!

You can see pictures of the yarn before and after on my blog:


YarnGuy716's picture

Actually the Kool-Aid alone would have done the job. Powdered drink mixes contain citric acid which would be enough to fix your colors. Although I do know some kool-aid dyers who still add vinegar to their dyes. I've done a lot of sock yarn dyeing and it is as you said a lot of fun.

asgalbraith's picture

You are right, but I added the vinegar because of the nylon, which requires an acidic base for the dye to penetrate. The Kool-Aid, without the vinegar added dyed the yarn, but didn't penetrate the whole strand.

Thomasknits's picture

Ok, this is definitely my next venture... Next time I take a trip to the grocery store


albert's picture

Beautiful result. How much yarn did you dye, and how much coolaid did it take?

asgalbraith's picture

I dyed a little over 400 yards worth of the yarn. It took about 25 packets of Kool-Aid to get that color. I could have left it with 15 packets, but I wanted a deeper purple.

The Orange Kool-Aid made a beautiful deep rust and when I soaked the same rust colored yarn in the grape for a second dye, it came out a beautiful rusty brown.

There are so many possibilities! I am a painter so this color mixing is right up my alley! I just need more yarn to play with!

mrossnyc's picture

The color looks great; the color is really rich and much better than the gray. I'm taking a dyeing class in a couple of weeks and can't wait.

YarnGuy716's picture

Took a look at your blog post. The color is awesome! That is a great looking purple, can't wait to see it knit up. Dyeing can get as addictive as knitting you know :-)

Kerry's picture

I did a mini workshop on microwave dyeing on Saturday. It was interesting and fun, but as the instructor was using chemical dyes she said you need a separate microwave. An expensive way to go unless I was going to do lots of dyeing.

scottly's picture

What a beautiful purple - I live for purple. I'm going to start haunting the sale racks at the LYS for yarns in non-descrpit colors to overdye with Kool-aid. Did you test length of soaking time for different results?

MMario's picture

with kool aid dyeing you usually completly exhaust the dyebath

MMario - I'm not divorced from reality - we're having a trial separation

asgalbraith's picture

You will be surprised at how quickly the yarn soaks up the dye. And you will know when it is done, because the water will become clear. The yarn takes all the dye out of the water!