Hooked on Needles

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dyeing Cotton Yarn Using Concentrated Kool-aid Ice Cubes

Yesterday was very sunny and hot here for the entire day, so it was the perfect day to experiment with my hank of cotton yarn and my concentrated Kool-aid ice cubes. Here's how the experiment went:

At about 10:00 in the morning, I put my tied hank of cotton yarn into my 13 by 9 Pyrex baking dish and got it wet with warm water, then I emptied out all the water and gave the yarn a squeeze up against the side of the dish. I had this idea that it would be good to start with wet yarn, but that might not have been such a good idea.

Then I popped the ice cubes out of the trays and put about four of each color on top of the yarn in a random arrangement. Aren't they so pretty and bright?

Then I covered the dish with plastic wrap...

...and put it out on the very hot and sunny deck to stew for the day. According to my window thermometer, it gets up to about 116 degrees Fahrenheit on the deck during the hottest part of the day! Whew!

Every few hours, I would peek out through the vertical blinds to see how things were going out there in the heat.

When the shadow of the house got close enough, I moved the dish down to the stone wall so it would stay in the sun as long as possible.

When there was no more sun to cook my cotton, I brought it into the house and this is what it looked like when I removed the plastic wrap. I liked it a lot! However, the cotton had not soaked up all the dye and was sitting in a big puddle of dark nasty looking water. I wonder if I had not gotten the yarn wet before putting the ice cubes on it if this would have happened. It's hard to see in this picture because the Pyrex dish I used is also dark, but you can believe me when I say the water in the bottom of the dish was icky looking!

So I dumped out all the excess water and gave the cotton a little squeeze against the side of the dish, then started filling up the dish with water to rinse the yarn. As you can see, quite a lot of the color washed out right away. I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed, waiting for the water to run clear, which it never really did. I imagine I could have kept rinsing and eventually I would have ended up with white cotton again!

So I stopped rinsing at this stage even though the water was still not all the way clear, and I popped the dish into the microwave and set it for three minutes. My theory here is that the heat would set the remaining color in the yarn. We'll have to see if that works out in the long run though.

Once it cooled down, I rolled the colored hank in very thick layers of paper towel to remove any remaining water and then I took the hank downstairs and hung it on my clothes line to dry. It was still damp this morning, but when it is all the way dry, I will bring it up into the light of day and take some more pictures of it. It turned out much lighter than I had expected, most likely because the cotton did not hold on to most of the dye (just like I had read and heard but didn't want to believe!) but the colors are very pretty anyway. The only question is: How long will they last?

So stay tuned for more results on this Kool-aid/cotton dyeing experiment! I still have some ice cubes leftover, so I think I will invest in a ball or two of wool and give that a try. From what I have read and heard, that will work better!

Happy Stitching!

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  • Just a quick thought, did you add vinegar to the water when you rinsed the yarn? It wasn't mentioned in your post but it is key to really getting the dye to set, just an idea!

    By Blogger Michelle, At July 20, 2013 at 11:23 PM  

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