Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dyed In The Wool

 Color . . . . rich, saturated, yummy color. 
Today I decided to do something just for fun.  I called my sister Margaret and asked if she wanted to come dye wool with me.  Me and several $$$ worth of Kool Aid.  It all started several weeks ago.  I had heard that you can dye wool with Kool Aid, but I had never tried it.  One of our projects at Quilt Retreat this year uses wool, and I decided to give it a try.

First,  you need wool.
So I made a trip to our local thrift store--D.I.  I bought everything I could find that was 100% wool.  That included several blazers, one suit, and one coat.  (It is really inexpensive.)  Then I took the scissors to them.  Cut them all apart and felted the pieces by washing in really hot water with soap and then rising in cold and drying in a hot dryer.

Now we were ready for color.  Talia  and Erin came in to join us.  The more the merrier!
 We started with several flavors of Kool Aid.  We even used a few packets of FlavorAid.  We just mixed up each packet with water (Don't add sugar!)  so we could see what color it was.

We soaked the wool pieces in hot water with a splash of vinegar to get the fibers ready to accept color.   (It's a good idea to use rubber gloves.)  Notice all the colors we started with.  I tried to find wool garments that had little color, so I could over-dye them, but a few of them were quite dark gray or tan, and they also turned out beautiful colors.
 In a glass bowl, we mixed up several packets of color with some hot water--enough to cover the pieces.
Then we zapped them in the microwave for 2 minutes, took them out for a stir, then 2 more minutes, until most or all of the dye is absorbed, and the water is clear.   

We rinsed them in running water then off to the dryer.  This also helps to felt them more so that they won't fray.  By the time we had finished we had sooooo many beautiful pieces!  Check out all these colors.  And some of them are still in the dryer, so we even had more.

Everything from deep purples, reds, pinks, and oranges. . .

through gold, yellow and greens.  (So many shades of green!)

All the  way to blues and grays.
My camera does not do these colors justice.  They are so rich and beautiful!  It makes me want to design a wool project right now.   Don't you just love how you can see the texture and the weave in some of these fabrics?  Of course you can buy white wool by the yard and do this, but when you use fabrics found in jackets and coats, you get some really great pieces.  The tweeds and herringbone weaves were especially beautiful.  And starting with wool that is gray or tan can give you more grown up colors than just the pure Kool Aid colors.   (Notice I just used the term grown up and Kool Aid to describe the same event.)
Well, even if it wasn't grown up, we sure had fun!

12 comments:

Alpine Quilt Retreats said...

This looks like so much fun! Please invite me next time! My family is not very fond of the smell of wet wool. Kool Aid, great idea. I have been on the hunt for good dyes,

Lynn said...

Is the color set so they won't run or bleed in your project? Not that I'd want to wash a wool project, just wondering.

Deonn said...

Wow, who knew!! This looks like so much fun! Is this a permanent fix? For some reason I actually thought that vinegar would set the color, this is so interesting! I'll bet my family would love a kool-aid party too. I love appliqueing with wool, just cut out the shape and whip stitch the edge to apply. I will try this!

Carol C said...

I've had directions to do this for quite some time but haven't got around to it. After seeing you have so much fun with it I'm going to have to give it a try. You look like you were having a great time.

JCnNC said...

This is definitely worth doing - wow, what fun you had and the results are beautiful. I just want to have enough wool to make a pin cushion, so I will start looking for a wool jacket. Juyd C

Barb said...

Oh wow, that looks like alot of fun and the colors are amazing.

Jillily Studio said...

Lynn,
Yes the color is set. We added a little vinegar to the color bath, just to be sure, then we washed and dried each piece after it was done.

Ta2Jewess said...

The colors are stunning! My mother is a handweaver and spinner and she used to dye wool for spinning with Kool-aid. To this day, I can still remember the smell of grape and wet wool. Also, there was a kid who I went to high school with who used to dye his hair with Kool-aid. Eyebrows too! Thanks for memories.

Heather F. said...

Off to the thrift store and then the grocery store for kool-aid. too much fun.

Poppyprint said...

I have always wanted to dye wool, but don't have room for 'dye only' pots/pans in my house. Thank you for sharing this method! kool-aid is cheap like borscht and non-toxic. LOVE IT!

Millie said...

This looks like so much fun. I bet it smell good in the kitchen. The fabric too.

Rhonda said...

This is an excellent tutorial with great step by step and photos instructions.