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Fruity Sheep

June 25, 2013

I have posted before about some of the fiber I dyed with kool-aid a few weeks ago, but the truth is it was actually my second attempt into the land of dyeing. What follows is my first attempt at dyeing, using that classic liquid confection of childhood memories in the summer, aka Kool-Aid.

I used the tutorial found here on the Knitty website, but tweaked it a bit since I was using fiber and I wanted to “paint” it on.

I began by soaking my wool in water for about 30 minutes. and then laid it out on a plastic covered surface.


I ended up using two colors that I thought would pair well together, but also provide a bit of contrast. (Lemon Lime and Grape)

20130401_111924I mixed each packet with some water in a bowl and ended up using a basic paint brush to spread the color on the roving. Green was first.

20130401_112755Because of the limited counter space I ended up snaking the roving across, which ended up being helpful in terms of dividing for the dyeing.  After the green was placed, I started “painting” with the purple.

20130401_113406I realized about halfway through that rubber gloves might have been a good idea, so feel free to take that tip and run with it. That’s some free knowledge from me to you. After the roving was “painted” and I checked that I had got most of the fiber covered (I ended up not getting everything last bit covered, but I did make sure it soaked through to the other side, for the most part.) The next step was to wrap it up in some good old fashioned plastic wrap. (I opted to microwave my fiber, since again, I am in a limited space…and I was anxious to see what it looked like.)

20130401_120526I then placed the carefully wrapped fiber in a bowl and added a little water ( I don’t think it was necessary, but I had visions of the plastic wrap catching on fire so I erred on the side of caution.) I ended up zapping it in a two-minute on, two-minute off cycle for a couple of rounds and then when I felt like it was done (the water had stayed clear the whole time) I decided to lay the fiber out to dry.

20130401_123009Hooray for sweater drying racks (you might be able to tell, I placed the same plastic back I used to dye the fiber with, underneath, this was more to catch the water than the dye. I actually had no issues with the dye coming off.)

The colors came out bright and bold which I love and the added bonus the bathroom smelled like fruity sheep for a day or so. The cats loved it, but it might be because they are suckers for the smell of sheep.)

20130401_123018I ended up with some wonderfully dyed wool that I was able to spin fairly easily. I did realize that the fiber needed a quick soak before it was spun up, it ended up being a bit sticky probably due to the fact that I used less water during my “painting” sessions than normal. But once that was dried it spun up quickly and easily. I ended up diving the fiber down the middle (in part to help with the soak) and because I was planning on another fractal spin, however I was a little impatient while waiting for the other half to dry and in the end I opted for a chain ply on the first bobbin. I actually think I preferred it, mainly because the color repeats were fairly long and the transitioning was subtle. There is some white space between the colors, but for the  most part with some careful planning I was able to keep it to a minimum.


This is the first section spun up, it had been wound into a ball before I thought to get a photo.


The yarn cakes don’t normally look this sloppy, I ended up having to frog my previous idea for a project and just kind of rewound the yarn in the general shape.

In the end I definitely think it was a fun way to get into the whole dyeing world (evidenced by my other dyeing venture) without dropping  a ton of cash. I do recommend it for almost anyone as a great way to explore color and fiber and express your creativity, I know I plan on doing it again (but remembering gloves for sure.)

Have you ever dyed yarn or fiber? What method did you use for your first attempt? What method do you use now?


From → Fiber Arts

  1. It looks great! I’ve been thinking about dying some yarn lately, but am reluctant to spend a lot of money on something that I might not be that great at, so Kool Aid is something to consider. Thanks!

  2. I haven’t been brave enough to dye unspun wool yet; I’m afraid of it felting! Looks like it worked nicely for you though!

  3. doctordana permalink

    I second the suggestion for gloves! I haven’t dyed fiber, but I did try to dye my hair with Kool-Aid once in college. My hands were purple for days.

  4. shellssells permalink

    Nice job! You got great results with the purple, which is a classically difficult color. I love white space in my wool actually, and I think your yarn looks fantastic.

    I used kool aid and easter egg dye for my first attempt, though I kettle dyed and made more solid shades.

    I currently use Landscapes dyes and/or Jacquard dyes. I use citric acid to set my jacquard dye, rather than vinegar. I’ve done kettle dyeing, solar dyeing, hand paints, and even once painted a shawl I’d already knit, that was a blast! I’ve also done “cram pot” dyeing of wool locks, which was a good deal of fun too.

    I am not an obsessive dyer. I think it is something I am not great at. But sometimes I can come up with something I like. I’ve got a ton of dyes and wool that should be dyed, but haven’t had the inspiration in a long time.

  5. That was fascinating to read and see, thank you. No I haven’t tried it yet. Is the colour dyed yarn colourfast for washing or will the colours run when you wash? I love the colours you have used. I would like to know where you got the wool from? Do you know someone locally or did you buy it somewhere.

  6. I LOVE Kool Aid dying. Nothing quite like that smell! LOL and you do get some really fun colors in the end! I do a lot of icing gels, too. For roving I usually use the oven because I can set the color without messing with the fiber too much, for yarn I tend toward stove top.

Care to share? Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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