Monday, 25 February 2013

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

I spent a big chunk of Sunday dyeing wool using Kool-Aid.

The Blackbird and I travelled to Iceland (thecountrynottheshop) about a year ago, where I discovered that wool (100%, barely processed, natural-as-hell wool) is very cheap. Turns out that sheep are one of the few things that can be farmed there. I bought tons, even though I didn't know what I would necessarily do with all of it. (I've since bought more online, too.)

Anyway, yesterday I found myself in the mood for dyeing, which I haven't done in a couple of years. I've got loads of Kool-Aid stashed away in my craft room, so I grabbed a few packs and started putting the wool into long skeins.

I used Einband laceweight wool. The first ball got looped around the legs of a chair. My legs are aching like nothing else today as a result of all the stretching I did. The second ball, therefore, ended up wrapped differently, resulting in a shorter repeat of the colours.

Agitha got involved. I had to shut her in the bedroom for a bit.

First, I soaked the wool in the bath while making up the dye. I had a light blue in mind anyway, but I thought it was nice that it was called "ice/glacier blue" - appropriate, right? I love the vaguely milky quality of the colour. Obviously this is about 100 times stronger than it would be if you made it up for drinking, and there's no sugar in it.

Next step: start squirting the dye all over the wool. I wanted the colour more intense in some places and lighter in others, so I decided to grab some dye, squirt, water down the dye in the cup, grab some in the syringe again and squirt it, dilute the dye again, and on and on like that until the dye is almost clear.

Here is the wool mid-dye. See the strands of darker wool holding the skein? The last time I dyed wool I didn't bother to do that, and untangling it all afterwards took me hours. I learned my lesson.

I also used my hands to gently roll the skein in the dye, to ensure a more-or-less even dye. Should probably have worn gloves.

Having dyed only half this skein, I ran out of blue. I ran upstairs to my stash, grabbed another blue packet, and tipped it into water. Disaster! 

Turns out Tropical Fruit Punch is red (and, judging by the smell, predominantly cherry-flavoured. I don't know about these things. I'm British. If we want artificial fruit-flavoured sugar drink, we're all about Ribena and Robinson's). This is where the decision to do a second skein came in. I put the red gunk to one side for a bit while I found a packet of dye that was actually blue, and completed the dilute-and-squirting from earlier. I left that to soak while I put the second ball into a skein and tied it up.

Here is the second ball mid-dye. I ended up using some orange dye (orange flavour, orange colour, orange packet - I know where I am with this one) for a bit of colour variation.

Here are my hands mid-red batch. In for a penny innit. (It came off surprisingly easily once I started scrubbing.)

 Finally, both skeins of wool were plonked into my bamboo steamer and set over a pan of simmering water. I let them sit in the steam without the stove on for most of that time, for fear of the wool felting.

Here are the skeins post-steaming...

... And hanging up to dry. (As I should probably have said earlier in this post, please excuse my filthy bathroom. It was like that when we moved in, and no amount of scrubbing will get rid of the dirt. I eagerly await the day I can afford to rip the bathroom out and put in a shiny new one.)

I am so so pleased with the colours. It's just this second occurred to me that they look like fire and ice. Have you ever seen ice that shade of blue? There really are glaciers like that. And the milkiness of the colour makes me think of the Blue Lagoon, where the water is opaque and white and the bottom of the pool is covered in black volcanic pebbles and grit. I haven't decided what I'll use these for yet, but when I knit the blue one up I think it would be interesting to incorporate little black or silver beads into it.


  1. Love them! Excellent stuff you clever stick. My favourite is actually the orange/red one, but that's probably because I'm all about the bold colours. Moar blogging please! xx

    1. Eee, thanks mate! I really love the orange one too, now that it's dried. The colour seemed quite uniform while it was still wet, but now it's become sort of subtle and shifting. It looks like a volcano. I love it.

      I will endeavour to blog more if you promise to do the same! <3

  2. That blue is beautiful! It really looks like pure ice.

    1. Oh, thank you so much! I am so happy with it. I've got plans to make loads more batches, but I don't know if I'll ever get one as pretty as this. I'm just in love with the colour. :)

  3. Oooh, lovely. I want a go! Where did you get hold of the wool?

    1. I bought it when I was on holiday in Iceland about a year ago, from the knitter's guild shop in Reykyavik. You can get it online at although the shipping is quite pricey.

      Also, thank you. :)

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