How to dye yarn with Kool-Aid, lesson one. A tutorial

Let me just first say I am an amateur dyer.  This is what I do.

First you have to buy your Kool-Aid.   You need the kind that comes in packets without any sugar or artificial sweetener.  Store brand is fine.  Around here a packet costs around 20 cents, 10 cents or so for the store brand.  For this yarn I chose 2 packets of Watermelon Cherry.


How much do you need?  It depends on what color you choose, the color depth you want and how much yarn you are planning to dye.  I generally use 3 to 4 packets per 100 grams wool.   Certain colors don’t give as much color per packet as others.  I find the orange, lime, grape and berry blue to be the strongest colors.

Now, your yarn.  You need wool or another natural fiber like alpaca.  What percentage wool?  I’ve dyed as low as about 60% wool with 40% man made fiber ( don’t remember if it was acrylic , nylon or whatever) and it still took the color.  This will NOT work with cotton.

For this project I chose a lonely single 50 gram skein of Regia 4-Fach Haltbar, 8 Fadig.  I googled fadig, supposedly it means threadlike.  Ravelry lists this yarn as a worsted weight.  I bought it at a thrift store long ago, I think I paid a dollar.    It’s color was sort of a cross between a pale oatmeal and gray.


You need to get your yarn ready to dye.  There are people who dye yarn as is in skeins like this, I have never tried it.

Not Yet…..

I transfer the yarn from the skein to my swift.  This is my least favorite part of the process.  I often wish I had a motorized swift for this part.

002 (2)

Then tie the two yarn ends together in a knot.


Next you need to tie your yarn so that it does not end up in one huge knot after the dye process.  I use a figure eight tie.  You need to tie it loosely so that the dye can get under the tied area.  If you tie it too tightly there will be areas that have no dye, or less dye.  For the ties I use scrap yarn.  this is acrylic, but you can use wool.  I actually  find it helpful to use acrylic, it will not dye and I can easily see where my ties are later if they don’t blend in with the rest of the yarn.



Because this is only 50 grams of yarn I only used 4 ties.  More yarn =more tangles in my experience.  If it were 100 grams I would use 6 or 8 ties.

My swift is from Oregon Woodworkers.  I love it. It has served me well for several years now.  It does disassemble but I basically leave it set up all the time in my  office/craft room.  The rug gripper strips keeps it from dancing around on the table ( sometimes I get it going pretty fast).  I keep saying I’m going to buy some of those rubber dots for the bottom but never remember to.

Now you’d think your yarn is ready for dying, but it’s not.  You need to soak it in water for about an hour.  If you don’t the dye will not penetrate fully into your fiber.  How much water?  Doesn’t matter as long as your yarn gets fully wet.  You can add Synthrapol if you have some, but even though I have some, I rarely use it  for Kool-Aid.  I had bought it when I was dyeing wool fabric for rug hooking.   Some day I’ll do an experiment with two batches to see if it makes a difference with Kool-Aid dye.

What’s Synthrapol?


Your yarn is ready to dye.  The next part is more fun.

Stay tuned for the next lesson.

And don’t forget, you have a couple more days to knit a Hogsmeade hat and enter in the drawing for the awesome yarn chicken bag!

This entry was posted in Knitting, Yarn, Yarn Dyeing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to dye yarn with Kool-Aid, lesson one. A tutorial

  1. Brilliantly clear, detailed instructions. Thank you. 🙂

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