Kool-Aid Dyeing (Hooking 101)

Fun and Easy Dyeing With Kool-Aid

Dyeing with Kool-Aid is quick, easy and non-toxic!  It is simple enough for the novice dyer but fun for the experienced too!  Its main ingredient is citric acid so there is no need to add vinegar to set the color.  It isn’t necessary to use separate pots and utensils like you would with acid-fast dyes.  Any unsweetened fruit drink mix can be used but I like to use Kool-Aid because of the wide choice of colors.

Please read over this entire article before you start.

  1. A pot
  2. Tongs, to lift and stir
  3. Water
  4. Kool-Aid or any similar fruit drink mix, unsweetened
  5. Wool fabric
  6. Optional paper and pencil to write down your own recipes

Some Simple Rules (no matter what kind of dyeing method you use)
  1. Always pre-wash your wool.
  2. Always pre-soak your wool, preferably in warm water with a wetting agent such as Synthrapol, Ivory Liquid, or Jet Dry.  You will only need a drop or two!  Allow to soak about 1 hour.
  3. For best results, use 100% wool.  Synthetics in a wool blend will not absorb the dye and will make your color look uneven.

Get Creative!
You can use just one color but I like to mix colors together.  There is no limit to the possibilities so try coming up with your own recipes.  Blue and red flavors seem to be stronger in intensity so you might want to use less than a whole packet when mixing.  Mix your colors directly in the pot.

Let’s Get Started!
Here is my recipe for “Pumpkin Orange”:

  1. Put 8 cups of water in a pot and bring almost to a boil (you must measure your water when Kool-Aid dyeing)
  2. Then add to the water:  4 packages of Orange and 4 packages of Lemon-aid
Yum!  It smells really good!
 Now get ready for the next step because the color will absorb fairly quickly.

  1. Carefully add ¼ yard of pre-soaked wool to the pot of simmering Kool-Aid mixture.  If you want your color to be very even, move and stir the wool constantly.  If you like to have your wool mottled and the color more uneven, dunk the wool up and down a few times with your tongs and then leave it in the pot under the water without further stirring.  The color absorbs quickly so within 5 to 10 minutes, your water should look clear, or almost clear.  (Sometimes it will look milky white and that is OK too.)
  2. Remove the pot from the stove and either cool the wool in the pot or remove the wool from the boiling water and let it cool in the sink.
  3. Thoroughly rinse the cooled wool in cool running water, then pop it in the dryer with a fluffy towel.
  4. Enjoy your newly dyed color!

Some Final Thoughts

Kool-Aid colors are bright!  If you dye over white wool, your colors will be neon-like in intensity.  I like to dye over taupe or gray to tone down the brightness.  You can also try oatmeal, camel, light yellow, pink, or light green.  Experiment with textures-try plaids from old wool shirts or skirts.

I often watch my grocery store ads and stock up on Kool-Aid when it’s on sale.  I have been known to go through the check-out with 50 packages or more at a time!

Happy hooking with your new colors!

 (c) 2008 Kris Miller/Spruce Ridge Studios LLC.  All rights reserved.  The written content, designs, graphics and images on this blog site are copyrighted and may not be used in any form or by any means without written permission of the artist.