Dye-ing to DYE with Kool-Aid & Plant Dye-ing - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 2 Old 07-17-2003, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Dye-ing Natural Fibers with Kool-Aid?

Thank you megtell for this great Kool-Aid shot!

Since this has become quite the frequented topic here in MDC's Diaper Hyena World . . . this thread has been created from the accumulated 'advice' of fellow momma members.

The pictures alone are enough to make you stick around!

Let's start off right - a haiku in honor of Kool-Aid

steeping in your hue
woolly skeins breathe in color
dyeing to be knit

What fibers can effectively be dyed with Kool-Aid?

Not all fibers will effectively ‘take’ a Kool-Aid dye and hang on to it through multiple wash/dry cycles. You will need to use protein fibers.
· Wool
· Mohair
· Angora
· Alpaca
· Silk

Wool Brand Recommendations:
  • Berella Muskoka, a 100% machine washable merino wool. This recommendation was made by Amanda Gill and purchased at Hobby Lobby. Her experience has been that the Kool-Aid dye does not fade - even following several runs through washer and dryer.
  • Natural Wool brand (8 ply double knit worsted weight)
  • Organic Merino from Treliske Organics
  • Briggs & Little (available in Canada)
  • Lion Brand Fisherman's wool (available at Joanne's and Michael's)
  • Green Mountain Spinnery's wool uses absolutely no petroleum products in the spinning process and have an organic worsted weight wool yarn.
MDC Mommas’ Show And Tell Time!:

”The Purple-Teal one is Koolaid dyed at the top, with purple yarn used for the bottom (I wanted to limit the colour getting on diapers).”

KoolAid dyed knit Organic Wool soaker (Berry Blue and Ice Blue Rasberry Lemonade).


Pamelamama of Wooly Wonders follows Amanda Gill's method for dyeing wool yarn, but uses a medicine dropper to apply the color to the yarn.

engineer_mama of Kool Sheep Soakers

Here engineer_mama is in preparation:

allformyboys of The Cushie Tushie:

Kool-aid dyed, yellow=2 packets lemonade, blue=2 packets berry blue, green=1 packet lemonade-1 packet ice blue lemonade:

allformyboys’ Dyeing Method:
  1. Fill a big bowl with warm/hot water . . . adding a few glugs of vinegar.
  2. Add the wool yarn and soak.
  3. Prepare your Kool-Aid by putting the powder in a glass jar or cup (she prefers using a jar b/c she can shake it up) and add water. She also suggests using as little water as you can in ratio to the Kool-Aid Powder.
  4. Take the wool from the soak and squeeze out the extra water, place in a glass pan or dish (she uses a pyrex cake dish) and pour dye over it.
  5. If doing more than one color, then add one color at a time and make sure the dye is soaked in - trying not to touch it to the other colors (prevents bleeding - although some will happen a bit).
  6. Use colors that will blend well.
  7. Once the dye is poured and soaked in, squish it with your hands a bit and put it in the microwave for 6 minutes, let it sit for 2-5 minutes and then cook on high for another 6 minutes. As a sidenote: If you do not wear gloves you will color your hands! :LOL (see below)
  8. Let cool and rinse 'til water is clear (usually quick - as almost all the Kool-Aid soaks in).
  9. Hang to dry - she prefers to do this on her line or in her laundry room
  10. Wrap in a ball when done.
Dyed with Natural Wool brand (8 ply double knit worsted weight) according to allformyboys’ method :

Yarn: The purple/blue and sageish green aren't koolaid, but the orange, yellow, green, blue/green/yellow multi, and red/white/blue multi are all koolaid dyed! (the green one is a work in progress) The formulas are as follows:
  1. Orange= 8 packets of orange koolaid 110 grams of wool, 5 oz water.
  2. Green=6 packets of green/lemon-lime koolaid 200 grams of wool 6-8 oz of water. I used one packet first and dyed the darker spots then did 5 more packs all over to blend it in (cool effect)
  3. Yellow=8 packets of lemonade 110 grams of wool, 5 oz water (yellow is hard to get bright)
  4. Blue/green/yellow multi=yellow=2 packets lemonade- 6 oz water, blue=2 packets berry blue- 6 oz water, green=1 packet lemonade-1 packet ice blue lemonade- 6oz water.
  5. Red/white/blue=red=5 packets tropical punch-5 oz water, white=natural/undyed, blue=5 packets of berry blue-5 oz water.

Dyed hand:

baileysmommy discovered that Dr. Bronner's is terrific from removing the KA from the hands . . . seemed to get it all off except for around the creases of the fingernails.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Amanda Gill’s Dyeing Method:
  1. Soak the yarn in a mixture of warm water and a 'glug' of white vinegar.
  2. As yarn is soaking, prepare drink mix.
  3. If painting the skeins (to get a number of colors in one skein, you can use small plastic cups to mix the powder with water)
  4. Use one package of powder with about 1/4 cup warm water (more water = lighter shade, less water = brighter shade).
  5. Squeeze any excess water from yarn and place in microwave-safe container (an 8x8 glass casserole dish works well).
  6. Paint the yarn using a plastic syringe, a stencil brush or anything else to apply the color to the fiber.
  7. Place container of yarn in microwave.
  8. Cook on high for 2 minutes, let rest for 2 minutes, cook for 2 more minutes.
  9. Allow entire container to cool and when cool enough to handle, rinse in water at same temperature as yarn until water runs clear.
  10. Gently squeeze as much liquid out as possible and hang yarn to dry.
Kool Aid Color Chart Dyed with Berella Muskoka, 100% washable merino wool:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Don’t have a microwave? No problem!

reeseccup’ Dyeing Method:
  1. Using about 2 gallons of water to about 1 cup of vinegar, add Kool-Aid (more Kool-Aid packages = darker/less = lighter) once water is hot (but not boiling – barely steamy) Sidenote: You can pretreat the wool in hot water and vinegar ahead of time if preferred.
  2. Add a hank of 100% wool yarn, stirring every so often.
  3. When water is clear enough to see the bottom, and yet with a little color still, add another hank of yarn to get a lighter shade of the same color.
  4. When water is clear, strain and rinse in cold water, then do a wash as you would if it were a finished product (with wool wash) and hang dry.
Dyed with Fishermans according to reeseccup’s method :

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

megtell’s Microwave Method:

For each color:

1 envelope unsweetened Kool Aid
6 oz water
2 oz white vinegar
1 microwave safe baggie
  1. Fill a pot with warm water--put your wool or silk in, let it soak about 20 minutes, stirring so it is all soaked.
  2. While waiting, I poured the water and vinegar and envelope into the baggie.
  3. Remove the wool from the water, squeeze out. Place in the baggie, roll around so it gets totally covered. Place in microwave (you might want to place it in a dish in case it spills) and set for 2 minutes.
  4. KEEP AN EYE on it, as natural fibers CAN catch fire in the microwave. Do NOT allow to dry out.
  5. If you do not have access to a microwave oven, you can use a vegetable steamer and steam for half an hour.
  6. When you remove it from the microwave, it will be HOT. I used a towel to squish it around. You need to squish it around until the water is clear. You might even put it in for another minute at a time, squish a lot, until the water runs clear.
  7. Allow to cool. The time spent gradually cooling will allow more bonding to occur.
  8. Rinse. Using cool water, rinse until the water that runs off no longer contains dye.
Laundering. When laundering becomes necessary, wash in cool water on the delicate cycle, or hand wash; be sure to follow any care instructions for wool.

Dyed according to megtell’s method :

MDC Momma’s Wool Weight of Choice
  1. allformyboys prefers 8 ply double knit worsted weight natural wool.
  2. topk92 prefers 85% wool, 15% mohair blend, as it's softer, and it behaves just like 100% wool soaker-wise.
  3. scarlet got her wool by taking apart a lambswool sweater bound for

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

How much wool do I need?

allformyboys has found that 220 grames makes up 2 ½ medium sized soakers when using the worsted weight. She uses Natural Wool for 200 grams/434 m

C'mon mommas - need more to add in here!

What else have MDC Mommas Dyed with Kool-Aid?

A Natural Aristocrat gone GRAPE APE by Jenb :

Playsilks by megtell :

More 'Kool' Resources:

More information can be found at these links:

Color Card | Dyes & Dyeing | Amanda Gill's Kool-Aid Dyeing | Green Mountain Spinnery

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Are you having fun yet? Are there any resources that I haven't tapped? Let's keep this updated with current links and information and any 'new' news discovered on the wild world of Kool-Aid dyeing!

It's been KOLOR-ific!
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#2 of 2 Old 02-25-2005, 10:23 AM
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Plant Dyeing
Also dyeing with mushrooms, lichen, and insects
from MDC member Quaniliaz

Fibers that can be dyed

  • Wool*
  • Silk*
  • Cotton and other plant fibers
  • Some synthetic fibers (i.e. acrylic)
  • Human hair and skin
  • Leather
  • Grasses
  • Wood
*wool and silk are good places to start as they take dye especially well


  • Plants
    (Leaves, stems, flowers, roots, bark, or fruit)

  • Mushrooms
    Cortinarius semisanguineus

  • Lichens
    Actinogyra müehlenbergii
    Lasallia papulosa
  • Insects
    Cochineal – insects found living on prickly pear cactus in Central and South America


“Mordants are simply metallic or mineral salts which, when added to the dye bath, enhance, intensify, or change the color of the dye bath and make the resulting shade more fast to light and washing.” (Casselman, Craft of the Dyer, 22) Not all dyestuffs require the use of mordants.

A good, relatively non-toxic, mordant to use is alum, which is available in the spice section of the grocery store.

Other commonly available mordants: baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar (used as an additive, not alone), rhubarb leaves, and urine. Other more toxic mordants include tin, copper, iron, and chrome.

[see corresponding reference for further details]
*No mordant necessary
fugitive = will fade

berries [6]
copper pennies [4]
indigo [6]*
lichens [3]

onion skins*
black walnut hulls*

beets [6] (fugitive)*
cochineal [6]
madder root

begonia flowers
carrot tops
chamomile flowers and leaves
birch bark

rhubarb root
turmeric root

geranium flowers
tomato plant
rhubarb leaves


a.Wind yarn into skein, tie in several places
b.Gently wash in warm soapy water, rinse in water of same temperature
c.Hang to dry, or use immediately

2.Pre-Mordant (use utensils that will only be used for dyeing from this point on, not for food)
a.Thoroughly wet all fibers to be mordanted. A soak overnight is best.
b.Dissolve mordant (Alum and Cream of Tartar (assistant)) in boiling water – for 1 lb wool, use 2 Tbsp Alum, 4 tsp Cream of Tartar
c.Add dissolved mordant to several gallons of water in pot. If wool is wet, be sure to use the same temperature water.
d.Gradually raise temp to a simmer over the course of an hour; maintain simmer for 30-45 minutes
e.Gently stir yarn from time to time
f.Cool in pot, overnight
g.Rinse, or not
h.Hang to dry, or use immediately

a.Gather enough dyestuff (general rule: 1 oz dyestuff for 1 oz wool)
b.Boil dyestuff in a pot of water until dye is extracted (1/2 – 3 hrs)
c.Strain liquid
d.Add additional water to dye bath, water should be the same temp as yarn
e.Gradually raise temp to a slow simmer (must not boil now that fiber has entered the pot) over the course of an hr; maintain simmer for ½-3 hrs
f.Gently stir yarn from time to time
g.Add water if necessary (take yarn out before adding hot water); yarn should not be forced against bottom of pot
h.Cool in pot, overnight
i.Rinse and wash with shampoo
j.Hang to dry


1.Bessette, Arleen Rainis, and Alan E Bessette. The Rainbow Beneath My Feet: A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 2001.
2.Buchanan, Rita. A Dyer's Garden: From Plant to Pot Growing Dyes for Natural Fibers. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1995.
3.Casselman, Karen Diadick. Lichen Dyes: The New Sourcebook. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2001.
4.Casselman, Karen Leigh. Craft of the Dyer: Colour from Plants and Lichens. New York: Dover Publications, 1993.
5.Dean, Jenny. Wild Color. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1999.
6.Grae, Ida. Nature’s Colors: Dyes from Plants. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1974.
7.Sugar, Marie. The Complete Natural Dyeing Guide. Leymoyne, PA: Rug Hooking Magazine, 2002.
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