How to Dye Yarn With Kool-Aid

  • 01 of 06

    Gather Your Supplies

    Supplies for dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid
    Sarah E. White

    Dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid is a great way to get started learning about how to dye yarn. It's pretty quick and easy and doesn't require any special tools or equipment. Because Kool-Aid is the only thing used in the process, you can even use a regular pot or pan that you use for cooking rather than buying all new utensils and pots to use.

    To begin dyeing with Kool-Aid, you need to gather a few supplies:

    • one ounce of wool yarn wound into a hank, tied loosely in at least four places with acrylic yarn
    • one packet Kool-Aid, the flavor of your choice (we used orange)
    • wool wash or liquid dish soap
    • a pot or pan big enough to fit your yarn, preferably with a lid (we used a big piece of aluminum foil to cover mine)
    • water and a sink

    Of course, you can dye more than one ounce of yarn at once, but starting with a small quantity is a good idea while you're learning. The ratio of one packet Kool-Aid to one ounce of yarn should be maintained regardless of how much yarn you're dyeing, though you can add more powder to get a richer color, less for a lighter color.

    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Preparing the Yarn

    Washing the fiber before dyeing with Kool-Aid
    Sarah E. White

    To get the yarn ready to accept the Kool-Aid dye, you need to do a little preparation. As mentioned in step one, you'll want your yarn to be in the form of a hank tied loosely with acrylic yarn (which won't pick up the dye itself).

    The yarn also needs to be completely wet and clean in order to take the dye uniformly. To make that happen, fill the sink with lukewarm water and a bit (maybe a teaspoon) of the wool wash of plain old liquid dishwashing soap.

    Allow the yarn to sit for at least half an hour, then drain the sink, rinse the yarn with the same temperature of ​the water as it was soaking in, and press gently to ensure that all the soap is out of the fibers.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Preparing the Kool-Aid Dye Bath

    The Kool-Aid dye bath
    Sarah E. White

    Now that the yarn is ready to go, get the dye ready by filling your pot or pan with lukewarm water. Dissolve the Kool-Aid into the water by stirring well (remember there's no need for sugar!). Your house will smell strongly of Kool-Aid now and as the water heats, so open some windows if you can.

    The amount of water you use isn't that important, so long as it will cover the yarn you're dyeing.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Beginning the Dyeing Process

    Yarn in the Kool-Aid dye bath
    Sarah E. White

    Place your yarn in the dye bath, making sure that the yarn is thoroughly covered (add more water if necessary).

    Turn on the heat to medium and allow the water to come up almost to boiling. It will start steaming and making little bubbles—that's how you'll know it's ready.

    As the temperature is coming up you can gently stir the yarn a little bit and you'll notice that the yarn is already starting to pick up the color.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Finishing the Dye Job

    Kool-Aid dyed yarn is finished dyeing
    Sarah E. White

    When the water has come up to temperature, turn off the heat but leave the pan on the warm burner. Cover the pan with a lid or a large piece of aluminum foil.

    The yarn will need to sit around a half an hour—maybe longer. You'll know it's done when all the color has been removed from the water and is deposited on the yarn. Stir the yarn a couple of times during the process to make sure that all of the fibers are getting color.

    When the water is clear, uncover the pot, remove from the hot burner and allow to cool.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Drying and Using Your Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn

    Finished yarn dyed with orange Kool-Aid
    Sarah E. White

    Allow the pot to cool for 20 or 30 minutes and then drain off the water. Rinse the yarn in water the same temperature as the water that was in the pot (even cold water can felt wool if it's warm). Allow it to drain a bit in the sink, then carefully wring out the excess water.

    To get it even drier, roll the yarn up in an old towel and squeeze any remaining excess liquid out of the fibers. You can leave the yarn flat to dry or hang it from a hanger and leave it to dry in the shower in case it drips further.

    Once the yarn is completely dry you can wind the hank into a ball and knit with it as you normally would.

    Kool-Aid dyed yarns are relatively colorfast, but we have found that if you knit with them on bamboo or light wood needles, you might find a bit of the color rubs off onto the needles. This isn't a big problem as it will wash right off the needles if it bothers you.