If you’re looking for a quick and easy dye day to turn your bare yarn or fiber into a colorful creation look no further than the drink aisle at your local grocery store. This no-fuss dyeing fiber and yarn with Kool-Aid recipe will have the entire family entertained while filling your home with a tantalizing fruity aroma, without breaking the bank! This recipe was featured in our April 2021 Fiber Club Package with Downy Downpour, a decadent undyed blend of mixed Blue Faced Leicester Wool and Wild Tussah Silk.

Dyeing with Kool-Aid is as easy as counting sheep, once you’ve gathered all your materials watch our easy-to-follow video tutorial brought to us by Karen Goodson and follow along as she speckle-dyes roving and handspun yarn. This bright, cheerful, and simple-to-follow tutorial is worthy of a dye day with friends and family, though it is so easy, you’ll make it a regular on your dye days.

Although Kool-Aid is washable you may wish to wear gloves while handling the materials to prevent staining.  

Level: Easy
Total: 30 minutes to 1 hour
Yield: 4 oz of dyed fiber and a 4 oz. skein of dyed yarn

Materials Needed: 

  • 2 packets of powder Kool-Aid in contrasting colors. You may wish to add more packets if more colors are desired in your speckles. If you wish to dye your materials a solid color, we’ve found that 5 packets of powder Kool-Aid will fully saturate 4 oz. of fiber.
  • 4 oz. of combed top
  • One 4 oz. skein of yarn
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Microwave or steamer
  • Toothbrush (optional)
  • Toothpicks (optional)
  • Cotton swabs (optional)
  • Towel
  • Neutral liquid soap
  • A large sink, bin, or bowl

Directions:

Mordanting:

Please note, it is not necessary to mordant your fiber before dyeing with Kool-Aid. The use of vinegar mordant may produce brighter, longer-lasting, colors.

  1. If you do not wish to mordant your materials, skip to the dyeing section below.
  2. Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add in 1/4 of a cup of vinegar per 4 oz. of fiber/yarn.
  3. Gently place your fiber/yarn into the water and push down until thoroughly saturated.
  4. Let the fiber/yarn soak for 20 minutes and carefully remove from water and place on a towel.
  5. Fold the towel over to cover the materials and press down to soak up the majority of the excess water.

Please note: Because we will be using a microwave or a steamer to set the dye it is important to not let your fiber/yarn completely dry out as some moisture is required in order for the materials to not burn. Especially when setting the dye with a microwave. 

Dyeing:

The intent of this tutorial is to achieve a speckle-dyed yarn and roving. By changing the way you apply the Kool-Aid to the materials you can achieve different results. The same steps can be taken to create a more variegated or painterly yarn/roving, simply change the way you apply the Kool-Aid. For a variegated effect, paint larger sections of color on the materials. You may also wish to fully cover your materials with Kool-Aid for a completely saturated effect. Change up your technique as you go to achieve interesting results.

  1. Using gloves, pour your Kool-Aid powders into their own bowls and mix with a teaspoon of water in order to make a dye paste. Add more water to your desired consistency. We’ve found that less water creates a thicker paste that makes concentrated speckles easier to achieve.
  2. Place your damp fiber/yarn onto a layer of plastic wrap.
  3. Dip a toothbrush, toothpick, and/or cotton swabs into your dye paste.
  4. Use one or all of the above-mentioned tools to distribute concentrated speckles over the entire surface area of the roving/yarn. Alternating colors as you go.
  5. Flip the roving/yarn over and speckle the other side.
  6. Once you are happy with the number of speckles, cover your roving/yarn with a layer of plastic wrap.
  7. Roll your materials in the plastic wrap ensuring a tight seal and that all of the materials are inside the plastic wrap.
  8. Place your wrapped roving/yarn into the microwave or steamer for 2 minutes to set the dye.
  9. Carefully remove your contents as they will be very hot.
  10. Let cool.
  11. Remove your roving/yarn from the plastic wrap.
  12. Wash with neutral liquid soap in the same temperature water as your roving/yarn to prevent felting. Wash until the water runs clear.
  13. Let air dry.

Dyer’s Note:
After you’ve finished dyeing, save any leftover paste in a container and use it for future dye baths. The same dye paste can be used several more times. You may also wish to mix the paste in water to store and use in future dye baths.

Fun facts: Kool-Aid was invented by chemist Edwin Perkins and was originally named “Fruit Smack” and sold as a fruit-flavored liquid concentrate over-the-counter medicine. In the 1990’s it was trendy to dye your hair with Kool-Aid, mostly because it was cheaper than a trip to the salon. The late Kurt Cobain used it to color his blonde hair a vibrant red in 1992. The popular and versatile drink mix is also used to make clay, watercolors, and Easter egg dyes to this day.

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