Monday, January 4, 2010


I had a bunch of natural/undyed yarn on my hands from some sales over the last year or so, but it was sitting unused in my closet. Why? A lot of it was chunky weight, and while I used some of it for my Greywacke mittens and cowl, the Cascade 128 was too stiff for the bulky sweater/jacket I had planned to make with it. I also had 4 skeins of Cascade 220 in white, and while I like pure white for summer knits, I didn’t think I’d ever want a pure white winter sweater. (I guess they call it “winter white” for a reason).

So this week I took out my box of food dyes and Kool-aid and went to work.

Here are the results!

First, the Cascade 220, in colorway “Pimpernel,” which I achieved with cherry Kool-aid, a bunch of red and bright pink food coloring, and then some black food coloring, which I added after I had gradually lifted most of the yarn out of the pot. 

Next, I tried one skein of the Cascade 128 using Black Cherry Kool-aid packets and again the black food coloring for the end piece. I call this colorway “Serotina” (part of the Latin name for the black cherry, prunus serotina).

Then, I did two skeins of the Cascade 128 in colorway “Gawain” using green food dye: 

Next, I did a batch of “Yorkshire Gold,” so named because I added 5-6 tea bags (not actual Yorkshire Gold—that’s too good to waste) after first dying most of the yarn with yellow food coloring.

I added a few drops of purple and black food coloring to get the bownish color, as well as the tea.

The overall technique I used is shown here (for hand-painting techniques) and here (on Kool-aid, specifically). I primarily used the gradual technique shown on the first link. My main innovation was to add the black food coloring and/or tea for the ends, which helps when you are dealing with a limited amount of dye and/or non-professional dyes, I think.

Oh, and I found (by chance) that Selsun Blue shampoo takes the food dye off of your skin, with no rubbing.

Now I just need some small projects to knit with the chunky yarn. I have a few ideas for new designs up my sleeve….

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