You’ve just got to try this; it’s so much fun! I just started to teach beginning knitting at my daughter’s school with our school librarian again and this time we decided to use wool yarn. The great thing about that, of course, is that wool can be dyed using Kool-Aid. (Also, we were thinking that the wool, being springier than cotton, would be a little easier to learn to knit with.) I sun-dyed these brilliant colors (blue raspberry, peach mango, lemon-lime, lemonade) last weekend, so I could show the kids a simple way to transform the natural colored wool I had purchased for them.
When I tried this the first time, there were very few Kool-Aid colors available in the stores. I eventually purchased a case of the green (lemon-lime) from Amazon. But even the green was available at my local Lucky supermarket this time around. One thing to keep in mind about dying wool this way is that you don’t have to dye your yarn before you knit with it. If your finished project is small enough, you can dye it after knitting. You may find that easier than winding your yarn into big rings (like untwisted hanks) that you tie in several places and then will need to rewind back into a ball before moving on to knitting. I knit a sampler swatch with the natural colored yarn (shown in the gallery above) and dyed it afterwards. I’m going to stitch it into a little purse. I brought it in to share with the kids before stitching, though, because I found the pattern variations so appealing. I could see continuing like that in random stitch variations to make a beautiful scarf or even turning the piece I’d already made into some kind of wrist cuff. Playing with your knitting (like letting it inform you instead of vice versa) can be a valuable path to new design ideas.
Of course, if you want to use more than one color in your knitting project, you’ll need to dye your yarn first. I’m thinking of a new project to share with the class now that will use the sampler stitching, but also include striping and maybe even another kind of fabric manipulation. Can you guess what kind of manipulation I’ve got on my mind? It is wool we’re using after all. Have you been watching Project Runway? Patricia is an inspiration, isn’t she? Her level of involvement in her textiles. I won’t say any more in case you haven’t watched the finale yet (I saw it last night), but I’m very happy with the way things turned out.
If you want to dye wool with Kool-Aid, the sun-dye method couldn’t be easier. If you are dying yarn, wind it into a big ring (use a friend or the space between your thumb and index finger and an elbow to help you). Cut short, separate pieces of yarn to loosely tie around your yarn ring in several places. Whether you are dying yarn or a finished piece of knitting, hand wash it first to remove oils from your hands, dirt, etc. that could interfere with your dye. Then mix one or two packages of powdered Kool-Aid in a clear glass container with some water. Place your yarn or knitting in the dye bath, set it in the sun for several hours and give it a stir now and again. Eventually, all the color will be absorbed by your wool and the liquid will be colorless (that part is really cool). Hand wash your colored wool and let dry.