Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kool-Aid Yarn Dyeing with Helpful Tips

Supplies Needed: Natural Fiber, Dye, Water and Vinegar #NiccuppCrochet

You are probably curious about dyeing your own yarn, but probably scared. Let me relieve some of the pressure for you. It's actually really easy and hardly any work at all.


100% Wool or Other Natural Fiber
A container


  1. Measure off the amount required for your project. If you want to be precise, you can Calculate the Length of Yarn by Weight.
  2. Make the yarn into a long circular shape (I wrapped it around my hand/elbow like winding Christmas lights).
  3. Take some spare yarn and tie it every so often to avoid tangles during the dyeing process. 
     Tying too tight can leave a small section undyed. Tie it loosely for a consistent color.
  4. Soak the yarn in cool water. I don't know if this is really required, but I read somewhere that you should do this, so I did.

Pre-soaking the fiber in cool water.
I think this looks like spaghetti. 

Playing with color

One of the problems you will encounter is picking the right color. How do you know what color that Kool-Aid packet really is? The brilliant makers of Kool-Aid tell you right there on the front of the packet!  

Kool-Aid man is holding a glass of Kool-Aid that shows the actual color. #NiccuppCrochet
These are the colors for my rainbow yarn.

You can dye the yarn in Mason jars, normal drinking glasses or any other dish you have on hand. You could probably even use plastic cups like you would use on a picnic.  

Just pour the packet of Kool-Aid into the jar and fill it with water. Do not fill the jar completely...keep at least an inch free at the top so you don't have an overflow when you add the yarn. I took the little bit of vinegar that I had left in a jug and poured a splash in each jar.

TIP: Vinegar is not required for dyeing with Kool-Aid. Vinegar is required if you are using food dye!

For most colors, one package is plenty. I used 3 packages of Lemonade to get a brighter yellow. I started out using one package of red. In the end, there were FIVE packages of red Kool-Aid in the jar. Red takes a long time to absorb.

TIP: Heat will set the color faster! If you want an intense color, try microwaving that color. Be careful to not boil the water as agitation will cause the wool to felt.

Sometimes the Dye Travels Up the Yarn

The green/blue really seemed to travel up the yarn and dripped a lot. I started out with the jars on my counter, but quickly moved them into the sink.

How do you know when it's ready to come out?

This isn't a one-size fits all approach. You can occasionally lift the yarn out of the jar and know just by looking that it isn't ready yet. Sometimes, you'll think it is ready, but then you rinse it and a lot of dye disappeared. If this happens, just stick it back in the dye for a little longer.

TIP: Rinse your yarn until the water runs clear.

I was pleased with every color in my rainbow, except red. While the other colors were hung for drying overnight, I let the red soak a little longer.

TIP: Hang the yarn over your sink, in the shower or over a trash can to dry. It drips as it dries (no matter how hard you squeeze out the excess water).

Save the Water for Next Time

The cool thing about using Mason jars is that you can pop the lid on them when you are finished and they are still there for your next dye encounter. Now, it isn't like you can't afford a packet of Kool-Aid, but why waste it? Why not just have the dye at your fingertips for when you get the unction to try it again?

The Grand Reveal 

I am in awe that this actually worked! It was a piece of cake. The hardest part of the whole process is waiting! First, waiting for the wool to absorb the dye, then waiting for the wool to dry. 

I was so excited that I just couldn't wait to play with it!

I made this rainbow scarf using Lion Brand's free pattern for the Bergamot Ripple Scarf.

Do you think you can dye yarn using Kool-Aid? Let me know if you try it out! I would love to see your pictures.

Be sure you like my facebook page or follow me on Twitter so you don't miss future Yarn Dyeing experiments.



  1. What about washing? Will the color wash out?

    1. Hi, Charissa -

      That's a great question! You have to use animal fibers for the dye to adhere and become part of the yarn. These fibers should usually be hand-washed with a mild detergent or wash in a gentle cycle with cold water. I haven't washed anything I have hand-dyed, so I really can't speak from experience.

      The dye will be absorb faster if you microwave the yarn/dye bath for a minute or so. And, when I have done this and rinsed the yarn, none of the color bleeds out. I think heat setting is the way to go.

      NOTE: Cotton and acrylic may appear to soak up food-grade dyes, but it will wash out unless you use a fabric dye like Rit.

  2. You'll also get brighter colors if you use heat. Either heat the Kool Aid on the stove with the yarn it it, or you can put your mason jars in the microwave. You'll know it's done when the water is mostly clear and the yarn has more color! Hope that helps!


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