Monday, April 20, 2015

Just don't drink the Kool-Aid...

I picked up a whole handful of Kool-Aid packets at the supermarket one day.  My kids were all giddy.  Ooh, I like this color!  What's this one called?  I like purple!  What flavor do you have?  What does this taste like?  Is it good?

Ha.  Did they really just ask me that?  

Something about a packet of chemical dye this-and-that, mixed with some overly processed white sugar just doesn't seem like my first choice to nourish my Pickles.  It just doesn't seem to make sense to me.  No, not so much.

Some like it, I said.  Actually, Daddy likes it, I think.  They all kinda chuckled about that.  I may have used a word kinda like "poison" to describe it at one point to one Pickle.  Kool-Aid lovers of the world, before you think I got all negative on the stuff, let me show you how I decided to show the Pickles what "dye" is really best used for:  DYEing things!  

We loved our Kool-Aid,

...we just didn't drink it.

This:  This is what Kool-Aid was made for!  A kid safe dye to create stunning, fun, colorful hanks of yarn!

  Dye-ing wool yarn with Kool-Aid is a wonderfully kid-friendly project that reaps such lovely rewards!
Here's what we did:
1.  100% wool yarn.  We purchased Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool which smells strongly of lanolin later during the microwaving stage, and Paton's Classic Wool Roving Yarn which did not have such a smell.  In order to help the dye reach all the fibers of the yarn, unwound the ball of wool yarn and created a loop of yarn.  We loosely wound our yarn around the top of a chair, and then loosely tied the yarn together at four points, to keep it manageable.

2.  Like so.  These are ready to go.  We used a heathery gray and a cream wool.  The heathery gray creates darker more subtle colors in the end.

3.  In very warm, yes even almost hot, water, submerge your wool yarn.  The Pickle's wanted to help with this part, so I first made sure the water was not too hot for their hands.  Agitating or stirring the yarn around would create a felted ball. so we were very careful to simply press the yarn into the water.  Placing wool in warm water relaxes the fibers which makes them easier to "felt", or bind to each other and create a solid mass.  We simply made sure the yarn was fully submerged.

4.  We wanted all the air out of the yarn.

5.  To ensure the yarn was fully soaked, we allowed it to sit in the warm water for about 20 minutes. We wanted the yarn completely and totally drenched--soaked through and through.

6.  In the meantime, we prepped our work table.  We found it easiest to mix our Kool-Aid dye in pint sized canning jars.  We used 1 cup water, 2 tsp vinegar, and 2 packets of Kool-Aid per jar.  We had a few "squeeze" bottles, which we transferred our dye into because it was easier for little hands to control the dye on the yarn.  We only had two bottles for this round, but I'm saving dish detergent bottles for future dye-ing!  For the rest of the colors, we used soup spoons to ladle the dye onto the yarn.  All that matters is getting the dye on the yarn, one way or another!

7.  At each child's work space, we placed a piece of plastic saran wrap large enough to reach at least 3 inches beyond the length of the yarn loop.  

8.  Removing yarn from the warm water, we gently squeezed out all excess water.  Once again we were careful not to agitate the yarn and accidentally felt it!  We placed a yarn loop on each piece of plastic wrap.

9.  ...and colored away!  

10.  When each child has satisfactorally colored their yarn to their heart's content, we next prepped it for the microwave.  Yes, that is how we heat set the colors into the yarn!  We first wrapped the edges of the plastic wrap in around the yarn, the ends first and then the long sides.  We created a "bag" of sorts to seal the dye and yarn in together for the heating process.

11.  We rolled both long sides of the yarn in towards the middle until they touched, and placed our yarn-dye-ing-package in a microwave safe glass dish, not overlapping any parts of the plastic-wrapped yarn.

12.  Microwave it!  This was a part the Pickles did not do, as the yarn can become rather hot in the microwave.  If microwaved each yarn loop individually for two minutes, then rotated the yarn to prevent "hot spots"(being so careful as it is hot!) and then microwaved it two minutes more.  When I held the plastic wrapped yarn up (with tongs or a hot pad!) and the water ran out is perfectly clear, the yarn was done!  The color had set!  If the water was cloudy, I microwaved that yarn a bit longer.  The water was 100% clear when all the dye was absorbed into the yarn.

13.  We rinsed the yarn in a bath of fresh warmish water with a drip of dish detergent.  This is simply to wash any excess Kool-Aid residue from the yarn, being still careful not to agitate the yarn and create felt.  We gave it a gentle rinse and maybe a repeat.

14. We hung ours yarn over the bathtub to catch the drips while it continued to dry completely.

15.  When completely dry, we rolled our yarn  into balls and hanks or some instantly started in on the projects that were compiled while the yarn dried!

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