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An introduction to hand dyeing with Kool Aid dyes

Kool Aid is a powdered soft drink from the United States which is ideal for hand dyeing. However Kool Aid can only be used to dye animal (protein) fibres. You also need to heat the dyed yarn to make the dye permanent or "colourfast". As it is a food product Kool Aid is great for introducing children to hand dyeing though in adult should supervise the heating if the yarn.

Because of its high citric acid content you do not need to add any fixing chemicals when dyeing with Kool Aid. Simply soak the yarn in water until it is thoroughly wetted. You can add a squirt of washing up liquid to the water to make the yarn soak up the water better.

Before dyeing yarn is wound into skeins to allow the dyes to reach all parts of the yarn. When dyeing skeins a single colour, the Kool Aid powder is dissolved in water in a large pan or microwave dish (big enough to let the yarn swish about easily) and the yarn is added. Cover and cook the yarn for around 20 mins on the stove top or microwave in 1 min blasts until it is good and steamy. Stir regularly for even colours. Use two or more sachets for stronger colours, less for pastels. You can also mix different coloured powders to create new shades.

For rainbow dyeing multi-coloured skeins, dissolve the powders in jars/bottles or pots then either dip sections of the yarn in the pots. Alternatively you can lay the yarn on clingfilm or in a pan or microwave dish and squirt dye onto the yarn. I use squeezy water bottles for this, but basters or just pouring the dye on works fine. Cover the yarn and cook as above, or wrap in clingfilm and heat by steaming in a pan or cooking in a microwave.

Once the colour is fixed, let the yarn cool before rinsing in lukewarm water. Hang up to dry and admire your lovely new yarn!

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[All images and text © Debbie and Peter Tomkies 2007]