Dye Yarn With Kool-Aid!

Balls of Kool-Aid dyed yarn

We learned a new skill on Saturday: dying yarn with sugar-free Kool-Aid! This workshop was a highlight of our Wool Days visit to Old Sturbridge Village, and I was so impressed that they let the kids participate! The other workshop participants (all grown women) were also super nice to the kids!

Adding Kool-Aid dye to wool yarn

Each kid got a 50 yards of wool yarn laid out on a sheet of plastic wrap. I think the yarn was spun from the wool of the village sheep! Bowls of Kool-Aid dye (eight packets of sugar-free Kool-Aid dissolved in one quart of water) were set out. The kids spooned the dye onto the yarn, and did a great job of not spilling – even Lily!

Yarn dyed with Kool-Aid by a six-year-old

Once they had colored their wool yarn to their satisfaction, it was rolled up in the plastic wrap it was sitting on, microwaved on high for two minutes to set the dye, and then rinsed in tepid water (you don’t want an extreme temperature change or the wool yarn will start felting together). Then the yarn was wrung dry and put in a little bag for each child to bring home.

Kool-Aid dyed wool drying

We hung the yarn out to dry, and then rolled it into balls. I love that each skein of yarn reflects its owner’s personality – all the colors of the rainbow for Emma, mostly green for Johnny, and mostly purple and red for Lily (I’m sure she would have done pink, had that been an option). We are still deciding what to make with it – what would you do with fifty yards of sport-weight yarn?

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

43 thoughts on “Dye Yarn With Kool-Aid!”

  1. Considering my crocheting is beginner level and my knitting is non-existent. It’d become a scarf. That’s about what I can crochet.

    Otherwise random crafts and what have you’s.

  2. crittersandcrayons

    Maryanne- those yarn photos are gorgeous!!!! The pics are just gorgeous!!!! I cannot believe that koolaid can do that!

    1. I was afraid they wouldn’t be allowed to participate, since typically only adults even try to do it. But everyone was so nice, and it really is a child-friendly activity!

    1. Maybe if you added some vinegar to help the dye bind? Acrylic doesn’t usually absorb dye as well as real wool. I want to give it a go with cotton yarn…

      1. I don’t think the Koolaid would dye acrylic, at least not very well.

        RE: using sugar free Koolaid, it’s probably the unsweetened kind. It’s much cheaper than either sugar sweetened or sugar free.

    1. You’ll have to come back to Massachusetts so we can all go together!

      But, you could easily do this at home – SO much fun!!!

  3. Wow… my mom and I knit a lot in the fall and winter, and we are always on the prowl for fun and different colors of yarn that are also inexpensive. I can’t wait to tell her that we can just buy white yarn and color it however we want! Great idea! Your blog always has such cool activities.

  4. Elisa | blissfulE

    Beautiful creations, and I too love how they reflect each child’s preferences! Hope you find something cool to do with it!

  5. Those are beautiful skeins, each one! I haven’t played with kool-aid dyeing, and now it’s moved much higher on the craft list.

    50 yards of sport weight yarn? Have you thought of finger knitting?

    1. I was amazed at how well it turned out! I actually was wondering if you had tried it before when we were doing it, because I know you’ve tried a bunch of different methods.

      Finger knitting is a great suggestion! Wonder if Emma can do it…

    1. How old were your kids when they started? I remember doing it, but when I was closer to 12. My oldest is 6 – do you think she could do it?

  6. We are a family of knitters, so I got very excited when I saw this post. I’m assuming they used the sugar free Kool-aid to prevent mold or any other sort of “growth” on the fibers, but what is in the sugar-free Kool-aid? How is the yarn holding up? We are going to have to try this out. The yarn your kids made is so vibrant and beautiful!!

    1. Aspartame is what they are using to sweeten it, and then a bunch of other “food-safe” chemicals that vary based on which flavor you buy. The yarn seems to be fine – the Kool-Aid rinsed out nicely, and it feels just like some undyed wool yarn we brought back with us.

        1. Not yet! I think maybe some cardboard loom weaving, or loom-knit doll hats, if I can find a loom the right size for such small hats :)

  7. 50 yards of sport weight is enough to make braided friendship bracelets, hairbands. A cardboard loom and you can weave a small amulet. That’s just a few ideas.

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