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A 'Nutty'shell: Drink Mix Formulas for Dyeing

Many weeks ago, too many to count, I mentioned some dyeing experiments The Tribe and I had done with drink mixes for a wider variety of colors. Brights are nice, but sometimes we want other colors and I didn't want to use chemical dyes since the children are usually helpers in the process some where along the way. Kool-Aid and the generic counterparts are bad enough. =)

I posted some photos on the "Roving To Dye For" thread. I'm putting them up here also, along with the recipes and procedure I used to make these colors.

First I'll give the basic procedure I followed, then below the pic of each colorway I'll give the recipe for that color and that amount of wool. I will also list the dye formula in 'parts' so you can work your own measurements for other fiber amounts.

Hope you try them out and have fun venturing into your own experiments!!

1) Fiber amount - 1 oz wool for each color. Soaked in cold tap water for 15 minutes.

2) While the wool was soaking I measured:
1 gallon water
1 tsp vinegar

and put those into the dye pot, set it on the stove and turned the burner on to medium. (My dye pot is large. If you have a smaller one, say 8qts or so, something with a diameter of about 10", you may not need as much water to cover the fiber.)

3) Then I measured the drink mixes and added them to the water.

4) When the wool was done soaking I placed it in the dye bath and covered. I left the burner on medium and set the timer for 20 minutes. If the dye was not all exhausted when the timer rang, I left the pot on the stove but turned the heat down so the water wouldn't boil, checked again at 30 minutes. None of these took longer than that.

5) Left the wool in the dye bath until cool enough to put my hands in it, then rinsed and let dry.

This is the colorway I am calling "Allosaur". #3S is our 'Scientist'. He is a typical bug lover, sister torture machine, and makes all kinds of cut ups when we try to take family photos. (Age: 5 yrs) His two favorite 'impersonations' are Allosaur and T Rex, so this colorway is 'named' after him.


Green - 1 part Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue, 1 part Kool-Aid Lemon Lime, 2 parts Kool-Aid Orange

Blue - 1 part Kool-Aid orange, 4 parts Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue

Orange - 2 parts Great Value (Wal-Mart) Grape, 3 parts Kool-Aid Orange

Amounts for 1 oz fiber:

Green - 1/2 tsp Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue, 1/2 tsp Kool-Aid Lemon Lime, 1 tsp Kool-Aid Orange

Blue - 1/4 tsp Kool-Aid Orange, 1 tsp Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue

Orange - 1/2 tsp Great Value (Wal-Mart) Grape, 3/4 tsp Kool-Aid Orange

This colorway is "Daddy's Girl". #3Daughter, aka Sis, was a big Daddy's Girl when she was a baby. She only wanted me because I fed her. She even preferred to have her daddy put her to sleep. My first husband's favorite season was fall; he loved the colors. These colors and many things 'fall' are now Sis's favorites, also.


Green - 1 part EACH Kool-Aid Lemon Lime, Orange and Twisters Berry Blue

Orange - 1 part Great Value (Wal-Mart) Grape, 4 parts Kool-Aid Orange

Brown - 1 part Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue, 2 parts Kool-Aid Orange,

2 parts Great Value (Wal-Mart) Grape

*Cream - 1 part Lemonade, infinitesimal amount of Kool-Aid Orange

Red - 1 part EACH Kool-Aid Orange and Great Value (Wal-Mart) Cherry and Grape

Amounts for 1 oz fiber:

Green - 1 tsp EACH Kool-Aid Lemon Lime, Orange and Twisters Berry Blue

Orange - 1/4 tsp Great Value (Wal-Mart) Grape, 1 tsp Kool-Aid Orange

Brown - 1/2 tsp Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue, 1 tsp Kool-Aid Orange,

1 tsp Great Value (Wal-Mart) Grape

*Cream - 1 tsp Lemonade, pinch Kool-Aid Orange

Red - 1 tsp EACH Kool-Aid Orange and Great Value (Wal-Mart) Cherry and Grape

*Yes, I did not list a brand for the Lemonade. This is the only 'flavor' that I have found to be the same in both brands. THE OTHER FLAVORS ARE DIFFERENT IN EACH BRAND. IF YOU USE A DIFFERENT BRAND THAN STATED, YOUR RESULTS MAY BE DIFFERENT. (I only use these two brands.)

OTHER NOTES: I wasn't sure about how much vinegar would be too much to use in these dyebaths, and I couldn't find anywhere in my notes how much I had used before. For some reason I didn't think to go check my main resource for drink mix dyeing, the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook. After having looked there, though, I think I could increase the vinegar to 2 teaspoons, but the one seemed to be enough so I may not.

Also, any color that has Kool-Aid Twisters Berry Blue seems to leave blue in the water no matter how long you heat it, and yet, if I try to reduce the amounts of that 'color' in the formula, the resulting color also changes. Go Figure!!

And lastly, for any who don't know, in 1998 my first husband suffered from acute pancreatitis and passed away in July of that year. Daddy's Girl is a pretty special colorway. 'Nuf said, or I'll start crying again.

We have more experiments on the "list". We'll see how soon we get to them.

Thanks to all of you who have befriended me and The Tribe! We're having a blast!

Happy Fiber!! In Color!!


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Comment by cherylbwaters on November 5, 2010 at 6:26pm
Oh, poo! My Wal-Mart didn't have any Great Value. Seems like I've seen it somewhere else. Now to remember where I saw it!
Comment by wendy on November 5, 2010 at 5:46pm
Nope it was just what I used to soak the wool before putting it into the dyepot. Thanks for all your help.
Comment by Nutty4Knitting on November 5, 2010 at 5:39pm
Yep, I've come across that before, too. And I do it! =) As long as you are not talking about water/vinegar solution you have already used in the dye pot.
Comment by wendy on November 5, 2010 at 5:23pm
Ok, here I was thinking the reason it exhausted so quickly was due to all the vinegar. Another question for you then. The same woman who said to use a 3:1 water/vinegar solution and who said it was even better to leave your yarn soaking in it overnight, also said the water/vinegar solution could be stored until needed for another dyeing job. So I put that solution back into my empty vinegar bottle. (all for saving H2O and $$$). Would you agree with this? .
Comment by Nutty4Knitting on November 5, 2010 at 5:18pm
I don't think so. Been a long time since I've read up on it. I read it all once, figured out my process, then just kept doing it. Most of the time my dyebath exhausts very quickly, too, 20 min max. Only with one did I have to leave it on 30min or longer. But I think that time the pot hadn't heated as much before I put the wool in.
Comment by wendy on November 5, 2010 at 5:10pm
Thanks for the info. Does the vinegar have any affect on the "quickness" the wool absorbs the color? Because mine got done very, very quickly I thought.
Comment by Nutty4Knitting on November 5, 2010 at 4:47pm
Peggy: Glad you like! I was thinking of you when I chose the Daddy's Girl as one of the first colorways to work on. I still have plans to work up a wide range of greens. There are a couple more in my 'old' experiment notebook that I want to use in something.
I dyed Navajo-Churro. You can have slightly different results with different wools because 'white' is not all white!! The base color of the wool can affect the end result. Also, if it is home processed vs. commercially processed, the amount of lanolin left on the wool will affect how much dye adheres to the fiber.
Comment by Nutty4Knitting on November 5, 2010 at 4:36pm
Wendy: Vinegar doesn't affect the color saturation. More vivad colors would result if more dye stuffs were used. (Greater amount of dye.) The vinegar is used to make the dyebath more acidic, which is necessary for the dye to adhere to the wool. But too much acid can harm the fiber, so you only want to use the minimum necessary to do the job. Except for the blue I mentioned, all my dyebaths exhausted, so all the dye present colored the fiber.
Comment by Peggy Stuart on November 5, 2010 at 4:24pm
What kind of wool did you use? Maybe I missed where you said. I got different results with Corriedale than I did with Merino. Is that common? Great blog! I love, love, love the Daddy's Girl colors!
Comment by wendy on November 5, 2010 at 3:21pm
Nutty, this is great; the colors but even more the stories behind the colors. I do so love Daddy's Girl. Thank you for sharing this very touching story with all of us.
Question - do you think if you used more vinegar in your dyepot the results would be even more vivid? Only asking because I dyed just this morning, but used much more vinegar and the results are quite vivid, which is just what I wanted.

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