Kool-aid Dyeing: Punch Drunk Color

My other summer project was to dye with Kool-Aid. I first read about it over at Knitty and I knew I had to try it myself. Turns out it's super easy! I only tried to work with one skein at a time, but I'm sure the process can be scaled up with some testing.

Materials:
microwave
1 skein animal-fiber yarn, weight 2oz
2 packets Tropical Punch flavored Kool-Aid
lidded, microwaveable casserole dish
fork/spoon for poking and stirring

Kristi Porter says to use about 1 packet of Kool-Aid per ounce of yarn, which I did. She also says that superwash yarn picks up color even more vibrantly, although my skein of Baatany DK looks pretty darn vibrant to me.

Newly-dyed Baatany DK, Tropical Punch Kool-Aid, and a natural skein for comparison.

Newly-dyed Baatany DK, Tropical Punch Kool-Aid, and a natural skein for comparison.

My process:
For uniform, kettle-dyed look, untwist skein and loosen ties. For monochromatic, variegated look, untwist, loosen ties, and gently re-twist. Rinse yarn thoroughly in lukewarm water.

Mix desired number of Kool-Aid packets into half-full casserole dish. The ratio of water to dye does not matter. The ratio of dye to yarn is all that matters. This may not make sense to you until you have dyed a skein, so just go with it. You'll want enough water to mostly dissolve the drink mix and cover the yarn.

Poke yarn into water with fork or spoon. It will want to stick out, and it will stick out a little, but make sure there aren't any super tall bits.

Cover and microwave in 2-minute intervals until the water starts to clear. As the dye soaks into the yarn, the water will look less and less like a ghastly Halloween display and more like a bowl of clouds and yarn, then finally it will clear completely and appear to be a bright skein of yarn in a bowl of water. After about 6 minutes of microwaving on whatever setting you use for normal heating, while the water is still cloudy, you should be able to just let the whole thing rest while the dye continues to soak into the yarn. This could take as little as half an hour but it's not going to hurt anything to leave it as long as overnight, if you need to set it aside.

When the water is clear or the yarn has achieved the level of color you want, rinse the yarn in lukewarm water. It will smell like Kool-Aid! But it won't be sticky because the mix is unsweetened. It will be colorfast! Although you'll want to treat it and the garments you make from it like your other hand knits.

I draped my skein over the porch railing to dry, and then brought it inside. I still haven't decided what to make, it's just so pretty the way it is.