Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Marvels of Food Coloring

Anyone who has ever tried to get Kool-Aid out of clothing knows that it stains like mad, and that some colors are worse than others. Fiber artists of all types use this to their advantage, using those wonderful food dyes to color yarn and fabric and roving all kinds of amazing colors not found in nature.

After reading several instruction posts found on the web (this one from Knitty, and this one are my particular favorites) I was ready to try it with one ball of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool (465 yards) and some partial balls of Lion Wool (maybe 250 yards). I turned this into a project day with kiddo.

We used our home-made PVC niddy-noddies to skein up the yarn. I had kiddo do the left-over Lion Wool, which were about 120 yards each. I divided the Fisherman's Wool into 8 skeins, about 55-60 yards each.

I set the wool to soak in a warm bath while we mixed the dyes and got everything else set up to go.

Flavors from L to R: Strawberry, Orange, Lemonade, 2 lemonade + 1 blasting berry, Blue Raspberry, Grape

We later added a few squirts of the lemon/berry mix to the pure Lemonade to make it a pale green, as lemon did not show up (face palm!).

Once the yarn was soaked, I got kiddo to paint her skeins using a turkey baster - messy, but effective. The hand painted skeins then got wrapped up in their plastic wrap and put in the top of the steamer for 30 minutes.

While she was playing and painting, I was doing solid colors in the microwave. Each one probably took 8-12 minutes total. I'd hit the button for a 2 minute cook, and then ignore it for a while until thinking "Huh, it's been a while", and then go for another 2-3 minute cook. I'd check on it every once in a while, and take it out for rinsing and cooling when it looked like all the dye was absorbed.

When kiddo got bored and went off to play, I used the last of the jars of dye to paint up the last 2 skeins of Fisherman's Wool, and then steamed them to set.

Final Verdict:
I think the painted and steamed skeins set better. When I put them in a water bath for a rinse, they had absolutely no dye release.
The bowl-in-the-microwave method was definitely less mess and worked beautifully, but there was a little, tiny, eetsy, bit of dye left in the rinse water.

Top Row (L to R): Black Cherry, Kiddo striped skein, Kiddo random skein
Middle : Pink Lemonade, Grape
Bottom: Red painted, Blue painted

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