Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Teaching Knitting: the yarn

We've been having so much fun reading about wool and spinning and dyeing, that we decided to try a bit ourselves. Just the dyeing part as we don't have sheep to shear or wheels to spin (YET!).

The best all-time easy yarn-dyeing is using Kool-Aid. The colors are "cool kid" colors, it's non-toxic, relatively inexpensive and lots of fun!

First, wind natural or pale yarn (we ordered Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in a natural worsted weight) into a big loop -- we used String Bean, but you can also use chair backs or an umbrella swift. Wrap the two ends around the loop and tie in a square knot (leaving about a 2-3 inch end). Tie about 4 or 5 pieces of acrylic yarn (I'll tell you why it should be acrylic in a minute) in different spots around the yarn -- we used yellow here.

We then googled "kool aid yarn dyeing" and found different directions but all boiled down to -- choose a kool-aid color, mix it with water and vinegar, let yarn sit in the dye bath until all the water is clear and all the color is in the yarn, rinse, wash with soap, dry, wind into balls and VOILA!

First, choose your kool-aid color: I copied a chart from the internet that showed approximate colors from various flavors. BamBam chose Grape, String Bean chose Tropical Punch (I thought for sure she'd do "pink lemonade" but maybe next time) and Lego Maniac chose Cheery.

We then did the safest version of dyeing for kids -- sun dyeing. Placed each skein in its own dye-bath in a freezer-weight ziploc bag and placed in the sun. The Grape took only three-and-a-half hours to completely dye; the Tropical Punch and Cherry took about six hours.

We then rinsed the yarn and hung it to dry. String Bean's Tropical Punch, Lego Maniac's Cherry and BamBam's Grape are shown here. See the yellow acrylic ties? The acrylic doesn't pick up dye as it doesn't have "pores" like the natural fiber does. Pretty cool, huh?

We let the skeins dry and then washed them just as you would hand-wash any wool. Once dry, we got out the umbrella swift, ball winder and wound some center-pull skeins.

Now, we're ready to learn to knit!


Anonymous said...

Terrific, project!

Thanks for the Kool-Aid dye tip!

Anonymous said...

I love these posts about teaching knitting! My kids want to get some fleece and learn to spin, probably on spindles, probably next spring. I'll be interested to read what your family does regarding spinning.

Blogger hasn't been allowing me to comment on your blog for the past few weeks. I wonder if it will work today ....