How to dye long colorways with Kool-Aid, part 1

Squee! Can you believe there are so many ways to dye yarn with Kool-Aid?

Today, I’m going to tell you how to dye yarn go get long colorways, or self-striping yarn. It’s the technique I used to get the colors for this shawl:

Don’t you love the stripes? It’s a time-consuming technique, but in my opinion, well-worth the result! I’ll be showing you the technique over two days, since it’s a lot of steps… but follow along, because I know you’re going to want to try it for yourself!


You’ll need:

  • yarn made from natural animal-fibers (undyed is best), wound into a center-pull ball
  • a few packets of Kool-Aid (see yesterday’s post about testing colors)
  • a glass bowl or dish for each different color
  • boiling water

The Process

Like I said, this process takes quite a few steps… but none of them are very difficult. Besides, you already know all the basics!

Step 1: Add packets to your bowls

You’ve seen this step before! Add your color to your bowls… in this case, I’m doing orange and blue stripes, so I have a bowl for each:

Add boiling water to your bowls.

Step 2: Divide up your yarn

Remember I said to wind your yarn into a center-pull ball? (You may want to have a ball winder or read here how to hand-wind a center-pull ball)

That’s because a center-pull ball will make it super-easy to divide up your yarn into small sections. I’ve used dividers to mark off where I want each color to be, but you can eyeball it, if you’d like.

Step 3: Dye the first section of yarn

So, here’s what do to… pull out your first little section of yarn, and put it in your first color:

Keep in mind that the size of this section will determine your color repeat! So, if you pull out 20 yards, your stripe will be 20 yards long. If it’s bigger, your stripe will be longer.

Step 4: Continue dyeing each section

Now, pull out the next little bit and put in your 2nd color of yarn:

Continue doing this with each subsequent section of yarn.

And keep going…

Things to keep in mind:

  • It sounds obvious, but the order that you put your yarn in colors is the order they’ll be in the yarn! I’m using 2 colors and want alternating stripes, so I’m putting a ball in blue, then orange, then blue…
  • If you want do use more colors (like the shawl I showed at the start), then plop one ball of yarn in your first color, the next in your second color, then your third…
  • The length of the stripes you want depends on what you’re knitting. If you’re making socks, then the color repeat doesn’t need to be as long as it does to get stripes on a shawl.
  • It’s very important to not get your yarn tangled. Be careful, be neat… and just don’t get it in a knot!

Okay folks… we’re only halfway through. I’ll give you a sneak peak of the end result:

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll show you how to finish up!

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