Saturday, February 2, 2013

So. Kool.

As an example of my nearly limitless ability to avoid cleaning my house, I am preparing to dye yarn.

This is an experiment.  It is always an experiment.  I enjoy experimenting with botanical dyeing, usually with Black Walnut hulls from local trees.

Black Walnuts make brown yarn.  Turns out, I really like brown yarn.  "Brown" is more exciting than it sounds.  Well, it is exciting to me, anyway.

See, here's some:


This yarn is an 80% superwash merino/20% bamboo blend.  Doesn't that color look like soft, sweet, homemade molasses taffy?

Don't you just want to hold it up to your nose and inhale deeply?

Ahhhhhhh.  Mmmmmmm.

No?  Well, okay, moving on.
~~~
Almost exactly 2 years ago, I tried dyeing with Kool-Aid for the first time. There are many, many, many online tutorials for Kool-Aid dyeing, and at least one dedicated group of enthusiasts on Ravelry.com.  The rav group is called What a Kool Way to Dye, and if you want to see projects made with some bright and cheerful home-dyed yarn, that's a very good place to look.

It's easy to see why Kool-Aid dyeing is so popular, especially for a crafty project to do with kids: it is quick, easy, safe, and fun.  The colorful results can be startling (at least to someone who is so enamored of the many subtle and delightful shades of brown) but there is also a sense of playfulness that comes with the crayola crayon hues.

This is what my first Kool-Aid experiment produced, and it is quite tame by Kool-Aid standards:

I was aiming for variegated forest greens on this 100% superwash merino.  After my first "flavor" produced a brilliant green that would knock you over backwards, some mighty fast back-pedaling with a blue "flavor" turned down the visual volume and yielded this spruce-and-snow-colored, variegated yarn.  Whew!  Nice save!

I wish I could show you the gorgeous socks that were made with this yarn!  But I did not make them.  Lucy Locket made them, and if you happen to read this and have a snap of those socks handy, Lucy, please email it along and I will add it to this post!!  I love those socks!

Update: Yay!  Lucy came through with a picture  :) 


~~~
After that first rollercoaster Kool-Aid experience, I try to be prepared to just have fun and expect the unexpected.  But this time is different.  This time, I am looking for a specific result.

Kool-Aid: the Search for a Soft Pink

I've done my research, poked through my box o' dye stuff, and found what I hope will produce a soft (Soft, please! Do you hear me Kool-Aid?) pink tone, on a hank of yarn I've been saving for Something Special.

The yarn is a squooshy fingering weight from Cherry Tree Hill, called Sockittome Select.  It's 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon.  I plan to use 1/4 to 1/2 the Kool-Aid I would expect to produce a saturated color.  My guess is that the superwash component will soak up the dye like crazy, and the nylon will absolutely not, producing a yarn that has some fairly deep pink and some almost white fibers blended together along its entire length.  (Mind you, this may be totally and completely wrong.  Yarn dyeing!  So exciting!!)

Would you like to come along for the ride?  Because I am not writing this post after the fact; I am writing in "real time."  The yarn has not yet been soaked, the dyepot has not been filled or even been dusted (see opening line on this post).  Nope, it's Saturday and the yarn will be dyed on Sunday.

At least, that's the plan...

27 comments:

  1. That is a gorgeous shade of green. I'm hearing of more and more people dyeing with Kool aid .

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    1. I can really understand how addictive it could be...SO fast, SO easy, SO inexpensive! Are you thinking of trying it?

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  2. I love brown yarn or wool! I did a dye class here once and we dyed about 10 different naturals (but on wool, not on yarn although it would work the same). It was so much fun. But one kind I'd NEVER do again, it smelled sooooooooooooooooooo bad - was henna - P. U. !!! I did a book for each of the students. If you'd like a copy of the recipes just email me at whimseyc@yahoo.com and I'd be glad to email them to you.

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    1. Thank you - I can't wait to read about your dye class!
      I've never smelled a henna dyebath but some people think the Black Walnut dyebath is stinky, too. To me, it just smells earthy and plant-y.

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  3. I love browns ...the are so earthy...especially the ones from walnuts which I quite often dye my hands with....

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    1. My hands get dyed pretty thoroughly when I'm hulling the walnuts, but are you using the dye deliberately, for mehndi?

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  4. Ive not got as far as Kool Aid, not that we can get it in the Uk but there are equivalents. Ive a huge container fgull of rusted, eco dyed and cold water dyed shibory-ish fabrics ive yet to do something with. ( have you tried Mahonia bark especially? Great fun that!)
    I love browns too, havent ever used black walnuts but they do seem to give a soft warm yummy shade.......

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    1. Fabric dying sounds like lots of fun! I haven't tried Mahonia; not sure which species are native here except possibly one of the barberries...will investigate. Thanks for the tip :)

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  5. Hi Quinn, sounds like you're having too much fun. Love the beautiful yarns. I've been playing with patterns for my new rug. I have pieces of paper all over the house, this may force me to clean the house.

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    1. Looking forward to seeing your new design!

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  6. We don't have Kool Aid in Australia but I have done lots obeying with acid based dyes. I have even successfully dyed acrylic! Use a very weak mix, you can always overdue for a deeper shade!

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    1. I'm getting the feeling we have many dye-enthusiasts on board! This is great.

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  7. I forgot to say that l love the brown you got from the walnut husks and the beautiful blue-green from your Kool Aid experiment!

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  8. LOL - I love this. The brown is gorgeous - to "dye" for! (How could I not help but say that!) Hugs from Alaska. Lovely post and a great job. Karen

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    1. We'll see if the results of the pink experiment are worth dyeing for ;)

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  9. I absolutely love the yarn you dyed for me and the socks I knitted are my favourites :o) You can see them here http://www.ravelry.com/projects/lucylocketpocket/tadpoles-2 and I'll see if I can email a photo too. That walnut brown looks fabulous too - I can see why you love the shades of brown you get. xxx

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    1. Thanks so much for the link and the picture, Lucy! Excellent socks - makes me so happy to see that yarn in action! :)

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  10. Ahh dirty houses...Do like I did and post a sign...."Excuse the mess but artists live here". There are 4 extremely creative folks living here under one roof....you get the picture .... very rarely really 'clean'...as there are always works in progress some where.

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    1. Great idea! I do have a "Wipe Your Paws" doormat, and I suggest to guests that they may wish to use it on the way out... ;)

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  11. I'v dyed my basket reed with walnuts, the longer you keep it the darker it gets and stinker too") it's too bad someone threw mine out thinking it was "spoiled". I need to find more walnuts next summer. Pecans also make a nice dye. I wear disposable gloves when i husk them. Never tried coolaid for baskets yet.

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    1. I'll bet your walnut-dyed reed makes a beautiful basket, or part of a basket!
      I keep my 5-gallon buckets of soaking hulls for years and they do get quite ripe, but I just scoop out what I need and filter it to get any bits and pieces out before making the dyebath.

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  12. Yeah, another lover of brown. I get a lot of odd stares when i admit brown is my favourite colour - but there are just so many browns, and such variety and warmth and depth and...OK, I'll stop. But...

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    1. I don;t think one can ever say all there is to say about brown ;)

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  13. OK, Quinn, I am not even a fan of brown most days, but that yarn is just LOVELY. Gorgeous, really. Such a gentle shade! Brilliant work.

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    1. Thanks so much! I know I've said this before, but if you haven't yet played around with dyeing a hank or two, I think you would find it quite enchanting! :)

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  14. The green and the walnut are both gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks, Gina! It's always a surprise :)

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