Dyeing with Kool Aid

Kool Aid dyeing is fun and easy. You can dye any fiber that came from an animal (for example silk, wool, or mohair) or, because soy beans have such a high protein content, you can dye soy silk.

You cannot dye cellulous fibers, like cotton (I've tried). The color will rinse out. You can dye a project at any stage. Unspunfiber (it must be clean first though), yarn, or the finished project. I like to dye the yarn because of the risk of felting. If it felts as roving, it can't be drafted to spin. If it felts as the finished project, the size will be off. If it felts as yarn, pretty much no harm done.

All you need is a packet of unsweetened Kool Aid to every ounce of fiber, a pot, and something to stir with. Unlike other dyes, Kool Aid is completely non-toxic. You can use your normal spaghetti pot for this, wash it, and make spaghetti in it again. You can even mix up some Kool Aid to drink with your spaghetti.

You do need to use Kool Aid brand soft drink mix. Different soft drink mixes use different food colorings and those might not be colorfast on fibers.

Put the Kool Aid in the pot with enough water to cover the fiber and stir. Then add the fiber and heat on a low flame (you don't want it to boil) until the water turns clear (or, for some flavors, a milky white). This typically takes about half an hour. Be sure to poke the fiber down occasionally if it has a tendency to float, but keep agitation at a minimal. The recipe for felt is hot water and agitation.

Let the whole thing cool and pour the water right down the sink. There are no precautions needed for disposing of this dye.

That's all there is to it. Some colors pick up differently if you add a capful of vinegar to the mix. Salt produces a more uneven, vagriated look. Experiment and have fun.