Introduction: Dyeing Yarn With Kool Aid: Oh Yeah

Is the yarn you're finding at the store just not bright enough for you? Have you been wanting to try out dyeing, but you don't want it to be too complicated? Do you want your home to smell like Blue Raspberry Lemonade? Then this is the project for you! I'll be showing you 4 different ways to dye your yarn with Kool Aid: solid, tonal, two color, and tie-dye. Let's get started!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

What you'll need:

  • Kool aid
  • Wool yarn
  • A big pot
  • Wool wash
  • A container for rinsing yarn
  • If tie-dying: microwave and microwave safe dish

You specifically need wool yarn for this project because the Kool Aid won't properly adhere to other types of yarn. It has to be a natural animal fiber (cotton won't work for this). Synthetic fibers (like acrylic) definitely don't work for this process. You can use a blend of wool and synthetic, just be aware that the Kool Aid will only adhere to the wool fibers and not the synthetic, but you can get some really interesting results. Also a note for the amount of Kool Aid: you want about 1 packet of Kool Aid per ounce of yarn. Most of the yarn I used came in quantities of 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, so I used 4 packets, erring on the side of overdyeing rather than underdyeing. You can also start out light, and if you want a stronger color, you can redye the yarn.

Step 2: Wind Yarn Into a Hank

If your yarn came wound into a skein or a ball, you're going to want to unwind it and make it into a hank. I just wound mine around the end of a side table, but you can also use the back of a chair or something like that. You want it in a hank to make sure that the dye is distributing throughout all of the yarn. If it's in a ball or skein, it probably won't be able to reach the middle.

Step 3: Tie Your Hank

I secured my hanks tying waste yarn around them. While you don't have to do this, I did this to ensure that my hanks wouldn't get tangled in the dyeing process. The last thing you want to do is have to untangle your yarn after it's dyed and ready to use.

Step 4: Prepare Your Yarn

Now you will soak and wash your yarn. I used the Soak brand of wool wash, but you can use another if you're partial to it. You don't want a lot, you just want to lightly wash the yarn in cool water. Make sure that you use cool water and don't agitate it too much because you don't want to felt the yarn. The mantra of this process is don't agitate too much.

Step 5: Prepare Dye

Now you will put your chosen Kool Aid into a big pot. Like I said before, you want a packet per ounce, so I used four packets for this dyeing. Don't worry about putting too much water in yet, just put enough so that you can dissolve the Kool Aid into the water. You'll be adding more water in once you put the yarn in.

Step 6: Add Yarn and Heat for Solid Color

Now you will add your yarn to the pot and add enough water that the yarn is completely covered. You might have to gently move the yarn around to ensure that the dye is covering all of the yarn and that the yarn is completely submerged in the water. Once the yarn is covered, you'll turn on the stovetop and heat up the water. The temperature should get up to nearly boiling, so I waited on all of mine until there were little bubbles in the water, but there wasn't a full boil. Then you'll take it off the heat and let it cool. You'll know that the yarn is done dyeing when there is no color left in the pot (it'll be either clear or a cloudy white). If it's not there yet after cooling, reheat and let cool again. I had to reheat all of my yarn.

Color used for solid color: Pink lemonade

Step 7: Add Yarn and Heat for Tonal Colors

If you want a more tonal, variegated yarn, when you add the yarn to the dye, keep part of it out for the majority of the heating process. I put a dowel rod across the top of the pot to keep part of the yarn out of the dye and added water up to the point where I wanted. After heating the yarn and taking it off to cool, I then put the rest of the yarn into the pot. Then let the yarn cool and reheat if need be.

Color used for tonal yarn: Strawberry Kiwi

Step 8: Add Yarn and Heat for Two Colors

If you want to dye your yarn two different colors, follow the same steps as dyeing your yarn for a tonal color, except you don't put all of the yarn in. After you dye part of the yarn the first color, let it cool, then rinse the yarn and empty the pot. Then add your second color to the pot, and tie up the yarn so that the undyed parts of the yarn are now being exposed to the second color.

Colors used for two colors: Strawberry Kiwi and Blue Raspberry Lemonade

Step 9: Prepare Yarn for Tie Dye

If you are going to tie dye your yarn, after you rinse it you'll want to section it off with rubber bands and get a microwave safe dish. I used a plate, and sectioned it into four sections.

Step 10: Prepare Dye for Tie Dye

If you are tie dying, you'll want to mix up your dyes in smaller vessels. I used four colors: Sharkleberry Fin, Blue Raspberry Lemonade, Green Apple, and Lemonade. I used two packets for each one, figuring that I was okay with overdyeing the yarn. Especially with this method, I would much prefer a stronger color than a weaker one.

Step 11: Tie-dyeing the Yarn

This is the messiest method of any of them, so be prepared. You'll take each section and dip it into cup, soaking up as much of the dye as possible into yarn. You really want to soak it and make sure that it's reaching all of the yarn, not just the outer portions that are exposed. You will probably have some crossover between the color sections, which can make for some really lovely color combinations. If you want it to be more precise, you can use a squeeze bottle instead of the dipping method.

PRO TIP: This is a really messy process. You will probably get your dye on your counters. If this happens to you and the color isn't coming off with a paper towel or other handy cleaning supplies, try spraying some window cleaner on it. That worked for me when I thought I had stained

Step 12: Heating the Tie Dye Yarn

After dipping all of your yarn into the colors you've chosen, arrange it on your microwave safe dish. Pop it into your microwave and heat for two minutes. Then you'll let it cool, and heat again for another two minutes. After you've finished heating, take off the rubber bands that you've used to section off the yarn.

Step 13: Finishing Up Your Yarn

With all of the steps, after you have let your yarn cool for the final time, you will want to rinse it and lightly wash it with your wool wash. Make sure that the yarn is pretty cool. If you shock the hot yarn with cool water, it will felt the yarn, which you don't want to happen. When dyeing with a pot, I waited until the water was lukewarm, rather than completely cool. After rinsing, hang your yarn up somewhere to dry. Now it's ready to use for whatever you want!

(If you don't want to wind your hank up into a ball right away, store it like above. To do this, take the ends of the hank into each hand, and twist twist twist around. Once it's pretty tightly twisted, bring the two ends toward each other and the hank will twist around itself. Then just tuck one end into the loop made by the other end.)