Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Dear Mom,
MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit invited me over for a dye day on a Saturday last month. We weren't quite Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory, but we were definitely two novice dyers with enough knowledge to be a little scared and potentially dangerous, but mostly adventurous.
We had some good results, some not-so-good, and some that had us patting ourselves on the back, inwardly squealing like little girls and snapping an insane amount of photos of colorful wool locks. I won't bore  you with all 30 of those pictures, but I will share some- as proof that we did it.

Melissa took notes.

Thankfully there were no accidents, and excepting some dishtowels that may never be the same again, at the end of the day Melissa's kitchen was still white.

Inspired by our Saturday, I dyed two batts of wool I'd previously carded with Fig. I'd read about a Kool Aid dye technique and wanted to try it. Kool Aid is not a scary dye - unless you have toddlers and white carpet (which I don't). I don't drink it, but if it is considered 'safe' to drink, I don't feel like I am bringing poison into the kitchen like I would with some dyes. Plus, this is good practice for when I use the Greener Shades dyes I have. I'll be using those in the garage.
I'd read that I could sprinkle the powdered Kool Aid directly onto the pre-soaked wool in the dye pot. As the wool steeps in the simmering water, the Kool Aid dye slowly dissolves into and through the batt of wool. I did one batch in my Goodwill crockpot ($4.99- to be used exclusively for dyeing wool), sprinkling Orange Kool Aid on one end of the batt and Cherry on the other end, leaving the middle naked. The result is the batt you see on top in the photo below.
I did something slightly different with that second batt. I used Grape, Cherry, Orange and Lemonade Kool Aid, sprinkling the powder directly onto the soaked wool, but instead of steeping the wool in the crockpot I  steamed it in the microwave, checking the wool every two minutes or so until the water was clear and the dye had been absorbed by the wool. Makes me feel like I am working magic. I was pretty happy with both batts, but the crockpot was definitely easier and the dyes stayed where I put them. The dyes from my microwaved batch swam together more- maybe a result of more water and movement, and the Lemonade color was completely overwhelmed by the other flavors.  But the results were still pretty. Experimenting, taking notes, learning, getting braver.

I dyed another batch of roving in the crockpot last weekend, again using Kool Aid. And let me just say that Tropical Punch Kool Aid may be in a BLUE package, but it is NOT blue. So what I thought might be a pretty combination of green, blue and purple turned out to be Santa's Tropical Thunderstorm.

Right now I am just hoping this will be prettier after spinning. Because right now it is....not.

I am gathering materials and courage to start mixing dye stock. This is getting serious.