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Repurposing/Dyeing/Recycling Wool: Upcycling Old Sweaters with Koolaid

I sort of fell into dyeing wool. I started recycling wool yarn from sweaters purchased at thrift shops. But I found that most of the sweaters I found were the same colors, pink, red, orangey colors or a shade of white or beige.

So I did a little research on how to dye wool and found out I could dye wool with Koolaid. There are other types of dyes specifically made for dyeing materials like wool, but I wanted to give it a try immediately without having to order the dyes online and put a lot of time and expense into something I may or may not have continued to do.

Here is a link giving some pretty good instructions onusing Koolaid as a dye: . Here is a great tutorial on dyeing wool using the Paas easter egg dye: www.woolfestival.com/articles/eggdye.htm.

I did was read through several tutorials and watch a couple of youtube videos before I got started. Then it was and still is trial and error.

Because most of the wool I used was not white, there is really no way to be absolutely sure what the resulting color will be.

In the photo below, I used an orange/rust yarn and was pleasantly surprised at the colors achieved using blue, yellow and red Koolaid.


Original color: orange, Using red, yellow and green Koolaid produced an array of reds, greens and gold.

Original color: orange, Using red, yellow and green Koolaid produced an array of reds, greens and gold.

I found my favorite method is the stovetop method. I used a large shallow stainless steel frying pan with just enough water to cover the yarn. I did use vinegar to help set the color. I used a dropper to add color the Koolaid dye. I mixed an entire packet into very little water so the color would be deep.

I found that I could get some really pretty colors using Koolaid. One of my favorite colors to use is the blue. The orange also gives some very vivid colors. I have mixed blue and yellow to get a nice green. The photo below is of some alpaca yarn I purchased at a nearby alpaca farm. The yarn was originally a kind of off white. Absolutely natural (and I do mean natural, still hat bits of hay and smelled like the farm.) I used blue and purple Koolaid. this was also washed afterwards with hair shampoo to remove the stinky farm smell.

dyeing-wool-with-koolaid

The photo below shows the original peach cashmere and the dyed cashmere. This was also from a recycled cashmere sweater. With this one, I did not use the pan method because I wanted some areas to retain their original color.

I used a large plate and only dropped the dye in some places with sections of undyed yarn between. I like the effect.

dyeing-wool-with-koolaid

I love dyeing recycled wool and the excitement of seeing what my newest concoction will look like. I still haven't ventured into purchasing dyes online. I like the idea of using something easily attainable from the supermarket or dollar store. Also, you don't have to use brand name Koolaid, I have used the Walmart brand, Great Value and others from the dollar stores.

A Virtuous Woman

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:24-26

Comments

Keisha on March 01, 2014:

Interesting article. The link goes to a very informative article on how to dye with easter egg dye! Thanks!

Helena Reimer on February 23, 2012:

Awesome, thanks for getting back to me on that. :)

Veronica Lewis (author) from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania on February 23, 2012:

I have also died crochet thread. But you can't use Koolaid. Koolaid only works on animal fibers. For cotton, you need a fabric dye. I've used the ones they sell in craft stores because of the nice choice in colors.

Helena Reimer on February 23, 2012:

I've never died my own yarn, but it sounds interesting. I'm wondering if the same method would work with crochet thread. Thanks for the link to the tutorial...

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