Monday, June 1, 2009

Dyeing Wool Roving With Kool-Aid

Since we've been in an artsy crafty kind of mood the last week or so, I figured we might as well continue on today. We decided to try our hands at crafting some felt beads for bracelets. Since we've never tried to make felt before, this was totally uncharted territory.

We picked up a few ounces of wool roving (cleaned, carded, but unspun wool), at the farmer's market on Saturday. It was Alpaca wool, but we were assured that it could be made into felt as well as sheep's wool. We even got to see a picture of the Alpaca our wool had come from, and received an invition to tour the Alpaca farm when we get a chance.

So, wool in hand, we began searching the Internet for instructions on making felt. The wool we picked out was a lovely cream color. However, for children's jewelry, we decided some brighter colors might be in order. And so, we returned to our stash of Kool-Aid.

After doing quite a bit of searching, and reading, we discovered that there seem to be three camps of thought when it comes to dying wool with Kool-Aid.

  1. The wool should be wet (soaked in warm water), and vinegar should be added to the Kool-Aid in order to set the dye.

  2. The wool can be added to the Kool-Aid dry, but vinegar should be added to the Kool-Aid.

  3. The dry wool can be plopped right into the Kool-Aid without vinegar, since the Kool-Aid is acidic enough to set the dye on it's own.

We, of course, went with the easiest method. We filled a pot with enough water to cover the wool, and brought it to boil. Since Kool-Aid is a food stuff (at least loosely), it's okay to use your normal cooking pots, and utensils.

We dissolved two packs of Kool-Aid into the water. We actually divided our wool in half, and dyed half with Pink Lemonade, and half with a mixture of Grape and Berry Blue.

Then, we turned off the burner, and added our wool to the dye mixture. We ended up using a couple of spatulas to hold the wool under the water. I read many accounts of the lovely smell that fills the house when using Kool-Aid dye. Let me tell you, we did not find these accounts to be true. If there's one thing that smells worse than wet Alpaca wool, it's wet Alpaca wool soaking in a fruity smelling dye.

After about an hour, the wool had soaked up all of the dye. We carefully drained off the clear water that remained, and placed the wool on old towels to dry. You can see from the picture that our dyeing is not consistent - I think that is probably because we did not presoak our wool.

This, however, has given our wool and interesting heathery look, that turned out pretty nice. Once it is completely dry, we'll move on to making some beads, I hope. I should mention too, that all of the instructions we read, recommended using gloves to keep your hands from turning colors. In our typical, rush-ahead-without-double-checking-the-instructions manner, we forgot about the gloves. I am happy to report, that the Kool-Aid dyed the wool, but not our hands, even without gloves (that's really good, because I'm still trying to get all the crayon bits out from under my nails from yesterday's project).

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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