Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hosting a Dye-a-Long

I have had many people contact me saying that they've dyed along to some of my yarn dyeing videos.  I thought it would be fun to teach some of my friends how to dye yarn with KoolAid in person, so I invited my local Crochet Club over for a Dye-a-Long!  In this blog post I will tell you what I did to create this dye-a-long. 

Dye-a-Long Set Up

Normally I do most of my dyeing videos on my granite kitchen counter where I don't worry about the work surface getting stained.  For a dye-a-long, I needed more space, so I decided to use my wooden butcher block kitchen table.  I didn't have a plastic table cloth, so I took 5 plastic bags, cut the ends off and then secured them to the underside of the table with bits of tape.  I made sure that the overlap sections were huge.  I think my table is well protected!  

Two of my guests had me purchase yarn for them.  The first step of handpainting is always a 30 minute soak, but I decided to NOT do this step for my guests ahead of time.  Why?  Some other attendees might bring their own yarn and need to soak it, plus it gives a length of time where we can start mixing the dyes.  

I selected Kool Aid for the dyeing tutorial because it is the easiest to mix up, you don't worry about proportions of vinegar or red dyes potentially crashing out of a too acidic solution.  I decided to look up the equivalent amount of dye in each KoolAid packet to compare with McCormick's food coloring drops to have as a handy reference.  

I have a lot of KoolAid in the house.  For this dye-a-long, I selected to have a rainbow of flavors, Cherry, Orange, Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape.  I put the packets in a pan that I am keeping OFF of the main table.  This should hopefully protect them from spills!

My Rainbow of KoolAid Colors.  I did a test dye when writing up the tutorial and these are the unmodified shades I got from Cherry, Orange, Lemonade, Lemon-Lime, Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape KoolAid each mixed in 1/3 cup of water and applied to a 100 g pre knit blank.  
I also made sure to supply cups for mixing dye, water, measuring cups and plastic wrap for wrapping up the yarn.

Finally, I provided printouts of the instructions we were going to follow in the dye-a-long.  I promised that I would share this handout with the entire Crochet Club so those who couldn't make the dye-a-long could participate on their own later on.  

The Tutorial - Available for Download through Google Drive!  You can use this tutorial for your own Kool-Aid Dye alongs, just please remember to give ChemKnits credit for the instructions.   When viewing the images in a web browser, the pictures appear strange, but when the file is downloaded and opened with a PDF reader program the images look normal.  

Photos From the Dye-a-Long

Waiting for everyone to arrive
The table quickly got messy as we all started painting.  (Unfortunately I forgot to take some in progress pictures until the very end.)

 After the dye had been set in the microwave, I had my friends leave the yarn behind to cool.  This is easily the longest step in the process and I knew that I could handle rinsing and drying the 6 skeins myself.  

6 skeins handpainted with KoolAid and one (far left) kettle dyed with Easter Egg Dye tablets.  
I made sure that my  Downloadable Handout contained instructions for the washing and drying so that even without a demonstration of the technique people would be able to do it on their own at home.

I love the final pictures of the finished skeins.  It is amazing how different people using similar flavors and colors of KoolAid can create such different colorways.  Now I just have to wait to see what people will knit/crochet with their fabulous hand dyed yarns!

My Handpainted Yarn

For my demo, I used black cherry, grape and blue raspberry lemonade. At least 2 packets blue, 1 cherry and 1 or 2 grape.  I diluted some cherry to get a pink but I added the vinegar to the dilution to make sure there was still some acid. I also mixed some of the colors together before applying them to the yarn to get some different shades of the red and pink.  I wanted to make sure that I added the colors in a random way around the skein of yarn, I didn't want to have super regular repeats.  

As I mentioned previously in this post, I demonstrated a second technique at the dye along.  While we were waiting for the yarn to soak, I set up pot on the stove to kettle dye some blank yarn with Easter Egg Dye Tablets.  My crochet club had a lot of fun watching the colors spread out over the yarn.  (More details from this demo will be in a future post.)  


I had so much fun hosting a dye-a-long that I know I will want to host another one in the future.  I've also given some thought to trying to do a live streaming dye-a-long, but I haven't worked out the logistics of this one yet.  Please let me know what you think and I'll see what I can come up with!