Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Color Purple

I have made two previous attempts to dye wool purple using Wilton's food coloring paste. The first used vinegar as the acid source, and the second used KoolAid Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade. The first attempt resulted in purple, while the second did not (deep blue). I was curious if the vinegar made the difference for the color, so I decided to set up some purple tests.

2 drops of NEON blue is the same as Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade according to a knitty article. So if I divide one packet of KoolAid into two, then I should add one NEON drop to the only vinegar sample. I added 3 mL (~16 drops/mL) + 4 drops of concentrated purple solution to each of the following:
  1. 1/2 C KoolAid, 1/2C water, 1/2T water
  2. 1/2 C KoolAid, 1/2C water, 1/2T White Vinegar
  3. 1C water, 1/2T Vinegar, 1 drop NEON Blue
  4. 1C water, 1/2T Vinegar

Samples 1-4, from left to right.

  • Soak ~13 yard skeins of wool in water until saturated
  • Add to dye solution, Microwave on High for 2 minutes (Or until the solution is boiling)
  • Allow to cool and absorb the rest of the dye
  • Examine the colors!

I had thoughts of bringing home some pH paper to test the solutions if the colors ended up different, however I discovered from samples 2-4 that the single drop of Neon Blue was enough to change the purple to a deep vibrant blue. The type of acid has a very limited effect on the color, the liquid food coloring drops must be much more concentrated than the paste I used. Once they dried, there are slight differences in the tone of #2 and#3, but this could be the result of the "dye lot" and not the acid.

To see if I could switch the blue back to purple, I added 1 drop of Neon Pink food coloring to sample #1. Success! I achieved purple again!

My samples after dyeing. #1 bottom right, #2 bottom left, #3 top right, #4 top left.

In the end, it is nice to know that the acid source (Kool Aid or vinegar) does not have much of an effect on the dyed color. I am sure that if I were to push the concentration of vinegar higher I could affect some changes with colors, but I will save that experiment for another day.