Sunday, 6 April 2008

Rainbow wool

I've been wanting to try dying wool myself for a while. There are lots of methods out there, but the easiest seems to be using Kool-Aid or an equivalent (in NZ we have Raro and Refresh among others). I used some plain white 8ply wool I picked up from an op-shop and a whole lot of Raro - about 12 packets. This was the second time I tried to dye this hank. The first time I only used 4 packets and it was definitely not enough! So I overdyed the same hank using roughly the same colours.

I loosely following the instructions from here, here and here, following the microwave method rather than the stovetop method. I mixed the colours up in plastic bottles with squeeze-top lids which worked really well for applying the colour. I only used enough warm water to dissolve the powder.

Here's the wool in the laundry sink, just after I've finished applying the colour:

Here it is about a week later, dry and wound into balls. I'm really surprised at how vibrant the colours remained once it dried:

And just because I couldn't wait, I cast on and knit a few rows this morning to see how it is going to knit up:

Some tips if you're going to try this yourself:
1. Just because you are using something that is theoretically "edible" to dye the wool, do not assume that spilt dye will not leave a stain on your kitchen bench if you don't wipe it up straight away.

2. Ensure the dish you are going use actually fits in the microwave before you put your dripping just-dyed hank of wool in it - transferring the dye to a smaller dish may mean the dye spills all over your kitchen bench (see tip above).

3. Think carefully about what colours you will use and how they will look when combined with the colour next to them. I used red (Raspberry Refresh), green (Sour Apple Raro) and blue (Wacky Raspberry Raro). In hindsight I think I should have just used red and blue and made a feature of the purple where they mixed together. Plus, the green turned sort-of yellowy-orange when it mixed with the red, which was not the look I was after!

4. Mark in some way the ends of the hank of wool so that later when you are winding it back into balls, you can find the ends and the hank doesn't end up in a greatbigmessytangle.

5. Use the best wool you can sacrifice. I used cheap scratchy white op-shop wool. Though I now have lovely rainbow dyed wool, it is still scratchy, so not really suitable for hats or scarves. I think I might try knitting a bag and felting it, maybe something along the lines of this.


sweetp said...

That looks great! I have done Koolaid before but not raro. Must give it a go one day. LoL, noted your wipe the bench comment.

kimberlee said...

it looks very bright! I never would have guessed you can use kool-aid for this purpose. my sister and I used to put pink streaks in our hair with kool aid. oh the be 16 again :)

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sewfunky said...

I have wanted to do this for a while - you've inspired me. :)

Nikki Elisabeth said...

Wooo! You got some use out of my instructions... even if it was 'what NOT to do' ;)

Yours turned out much more vibrant. Awesome!

I must try it again - this time i have red koolaid and brown cake dyes.

Kiwi family on adventure said...

You sooo inspire me to get crafty. I am making roman blinds (dusting of my sewing skills...) and have been looking at knitting patterns.....

Sheryll said...

Nice results! I recently had a go at dyeing with food colouring which was fun - might have to give Raro a go now!