Several years ago, a group of my knitting friends and I decided we were all going to try out dyeing wool with Kool Aid. None of us had ever tried it before, and it sounded like an easy, fun thing to do. It was my turn to host a knit night, so on the appointed evening I set several large pans of water ready on my stove, and people showed up with Kool Aid, yarn, and snacks.
It was a lot of fun, and a bit scary. By the time the process is completed, the water used to dye the yarn is completely clear again. The yarn gets rinsed after dyeing just to make sure everything is colourfast and... yeah, everything was. The yarn got washed twice afterwards (more on that below), and no dye came out of it at all.
Just regular Kool Aid, water, and some vinegar if I remember right. It really makes me regret all those "juice crystal" drinks and popsicles I had as a kid.
I dyed 100g of Briggs & Little Regal with a large packet of orange Kool Aid, because nothing says "chemistry experiment" than taking a hank of natural yarn spun at a mill that's been around for 150 years, and turning it a soft orange with drink crystals.
The yarn sat in stash for a long time. I was so eager to see what the dyeing would do to the wool that I didn't think about what I was going to knit with it. I finally decided to make Cathy a hat and a pair of mittens for Yule.
The hat and mittens pattern both come from The Shape of Knitting, the Tilda hat and the Mer mittens respectively. The hat reminded me of a whale's tail for some reason, and the Mer mittens' cuffs have a ripple based on those of sea anemones.
They're both great designs for the knitting and for wearability. The hat is like a slouch hat, but without the excess fabric those usually have. Instead, it curves over the crown of the head while leaving the underside with just enough fabric to meet up gracefully. The joining-up of the front and back involves some fun 3D shaping which is not too hard to work so long as you put faith in the instructions.
The Mer mittens are mostly double knitted. Why do more knitting patterns not take advantage of this technique? It makes things so much more comfortable and easy to knit. The mittens were also the first time I used the technique the book's author calls a speed increase, and it's a great one to add to the general repetoire. A knitter can use the increase to easily double the number of stitches for an entire row or part of a row, quickly and with no stitch distortion. I like how the cuff ruffle gives them a little bit of flare without being ridiculous or overly girly. I also like how the ruffle is only on the back of the mitten, so it won't get in the way.
I love Regal yarn for its minimal processing, but sometimes people find it scratchy (feh!). Therefore, I found this project a good excuse to try some more home chemistry. After washing the finished items in Soak, I worked a generous amount of hair conditioner into them and let them sit for several minutes. Then I rinsed out the hair conditioner and let things air dry on a rack per usual.
Wool haters will still find them scratchy, but they really are much softer than they were before. It was definitely worth using the hair conditioner! I did notice the ribbing of the hat had a more "limp" hand than it did before, but since the rib is for fabric design (it keeps the short rows and the finishing neat) and not stretchiness, that works. The mittens are more flexible now, which is a bonus.