Monday, June 9, 2008

Dyeing Silk with Kool-Aid

A few days ago, I mentioned that I planned to spindle-spin the green and pink silk hankies that I'd gotten in a trade, and then ply both with silk from some white silk hankies that I had on hand (to extend the yardage- even as finely as I am spinning the green hankie, I'll still be lucky to get 200 yds from it)(which will add out to about 500 yds per oz, so we're talking very fine yarn here).

I didn't really want to ply the dyed silk with undyed, so I decided to dye the white silk hankies with Kool-Aid (to my Granddaughter's delight). We soaked the hankies in warm water in my plastic dye buckets (left over ice cream tubs, from back when we ate enough ice cream to have multiple tubs left over), and then added 2 packets of Kool-aid (Lemonade, and Strawberry Tea) to each bucket, along with a glug of Vinegar. The vinegar probably wasn't necessary, since Kool-Aid is plenty acidic on it's own, but it didn't hurt. I didn't care if the hankies came out mottled, so I just sprinkled the dry powder directly on the wet silk and stirred.

Then I microwaved each bucket to heat-set the dye: 2 minutes on high, 2 minutes rest, repeated 2 more times. And then we let the hankies sit in the water until they cooled completely.

Kool-Aid dye won't exhaust (the water won't clear), so there was really no way to tell when the hankies were *done*. After a couple of hours, we just dumped the cold water, and rinsed the hankies thoroughly (especially the red one- it took forever for the color to stop running, and I'm not sure I got it all out even yet because the wooden clothespins were stained when we took the hankie down).

Wet silk looks like something the cat threw up, but it regains its former sheen pretty quickly. We gently smoothed and stretched the hankies back out into their former square shape, and hung them up to dry. Within a couple of hours, they were soft and fluffy, and gorgeous. Ready to spin.
A note about dyeing: even though all of the ingredients in this dye job are edible, it's still a good idea to use only dedicated pots and utensils for any dyeing project. It's also a good idea to have a *craft* microwave that is not used for food (I have one for melt and pour soap making, that I use).
And a note about Kool-Aid: this stuff, wet or dry, will stain and dye everything it touches. Wear old clothes and gloves during this process, unless being a splotchy pink intrigues you.


Cara said...

Very cool! I especially like the magenta and peach one. That's going to be some gorgeous spinning!

If it turns out the red one still contains dye that would run or bleed, what will you do about it?

Kathleen Taylor said...

I'll probably soak the red hankie again, maybe with a bit of vinegar, to help set the color. Otherwise, it could discolor the other silk (and the skin/clothing of whoever is wearing whatever I knit from it). Red is a real pain sometimes, but I didn't have any Orange Kool Aid on Hand.

ambermoggie said...

love the colours:)

Karen said...

Thank you! Believe it or not, just yesterday I was telling my daughter about dyeing with KoolAid. I don't think she believed me, but now that I have an actual technique in hand, I can prove it to her. Nothing in the world really beats proving a 14-year-old wrong, does it? :D

Kathleen Taylor said...

thanks ambermoggie!

And karen- happy to help... anything to flummox a 14 year old, I always say...

Michele / akkasha said...

I love the red. I didn't think you could get darker colors with Koolaid. Your colors are inspiring me to try it. I love rich colors.

I have dyed with fiber reactive dyes. So I understand completely about the rinsing. It can be frustrating. But it is worth it in the long run.

I am betting they will look beautiful.

Brandy said...

I have also discovered that if youdo happen to get dye or Kool-Aid on the countertops, Magic Eraser will almost always get it out.