Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spring Fashion Forecast

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool experimenter.  Not everything turns out as expected.  Sometimes the whole situation goes amok, and one is left with what might be called a mess.  That's how I discovered a process for making a good work sweater.

There's a sweater in my closet that started out in color I don't care for.  My plan was to make it teal to hide the royal blue stitches. So a year ago I dyed it with Rit.  Rit doesn't work on wool.  It ended up a with only a hint of light grey-green, though the blue was not now so prominent. I've read notes recently from several good yarn authorities on dyeing wool with Kool-Aid--it bonds well with the protein fibers. When I found the Kool-Aid trick, I planned to mix a bunch of the colors together to get a brown of some sort.

Splotchy sweater after first dye attempt

With packages of all different flavors I went to work.  I shouldn't have skipped so many chemistry classes in high school.  In the giant pot of near-boiling Kool-Aid, there was a color similar to brown.  The sweater took the plunge into the pot.  About then I realized that four packages might be enough for two balls of yarn, but would certainly not do much for a whole sweater.  The color left in the sweater wasn't brown but a very splotchy rose.

Could we make a grey sweater with this?
Some of the "dye" packets
To the store again and back this time with six packs of blue splash raspberry (blue) and six packs of lemonade (yellow).  Add to the pot additionally a grape and a cherry.  The color was:  well take a look for yourself. Actually, grey would be just fine, thank you. Going to every grocery store in town (I checked out all the major chains) to find lime Kool-Aid to turn this stuff brown is not part of the Things I get to do today.

The second swim for the sweater did not make it grey.  The dye was absorbed until there was none left in the water, but no grey showed up in the garment.  The end result looked, well, like a great sweater to wear in the yard.  Wait till the Paris designers get a load of my spring fashions.  At least I'm sure the chickens won't be embarrassed to be seen with me.
What a lovely color for spring gardening!


  1. Too bad I'm not your size. I would have loved the white and royal blue. And yes, it's now a beautiful working-in-the-yard sweater.

    1. Looks disastrously too late now, doesn't it?

  2. Replies
    1. It is actually much better than I thought. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  3. I love the sweater. For protein fibers such as silk and wool you need an acid leveling dye which is what Kool-Aid is. Koolaid dyeing is a big thing in my part of the fiber world. It's a choice that many of the people I teach use to dye yarn and fiber for tapestry weaving. Once had a friend who dyed her sheep with koolaid. It was really kinda cool! Rit dyes are a very different dye chemically then Kool-Aid and tend to be less stable. It does amaze me that people actually drink the stuff though. You may want to stabilize your dyed sweater with vinegar to set the colours in the very last bath/rinse. It's a great looking sweater as is.

    1. Thanks for all the good info, Kathe. I thought you might be able to shed some light on the subject. I was sad not to be able to find lime green. It would have changed everything. Also noted that the original dark yarn was not going to take any of the colors added since there was no room left in the fiber to hold more color.

      I will probably still use the sweater just for work--which actually elevates its status since that's what I wear the most!