I wanted to share my Great Solar Kool Aid Dye Experiment with everyone, and encourage you to conserve fuel and use the sun, while the getting is good (at least in the Northern Hemisphere).
I needed more yarn for Seraphim, and had been mulling over 'design modifications' that would allow me to finish up and personalize my version, so I bought some lovely silvery-cream yarn of the same weight from Harvey Farms last week.
Then, a trip to the store netted several packages of Kool-Aid. I mixed two packages of Tropical Punch with one package of Strawberry, hoping to get a nice tomatoey-coral red... the smell was terrific, and reminded me of childhood days attempting to raise a fortune through a street-side Kool-Aid stand. I added 6 oz. water to 2 oz. white vinegar in order to assure that my color would stick to my yarn. Pouring my 'dye bath' over pre-soaked yarn which had been placed in a gallon-sized ziplock bag led to this:
Though it is hard to see the yarn through the heavy plastic, I was optimistic from the start. The color looked really close to what I wanted!
That is my very large, antique black enamel turkey roasting pan, which I was hoping would absorb the sun's rays and help to keep my dye bath at a simmering temperature. I wasn't sure how much solar heat to apply; I left my pan out for three days, and then emailed Amy, saying "Most Kool-Aid recipes for heating on the stove or microwave say to heat until all the color is taken up; how long should I leave this out in the sun?"
Well, I felt a bit foolish when she reminded me that I might have more liquid than those people had used, and added that she had never solar dyed yarn for longer than a few hours.... I guess it was out there long enough.
My yarn rinsed clear right away, which is a good sign that my vinegar fixative had done it's job.
I am very happy with the color, and the fruity smell, though that will probably dissipate. I doubt that I will use Kool Aid all that often; there are more precise, more ecological and less expensive ways to dye yarn (though not all three in one choice). However, I am delighted to get the color I had in mind, while employing the sun. This yarn will be used for the bottom two charts on the shawl, and I wound it into a ball last night... not an easy task, considering the skein is a double-length one.
Now, for the contest part:
There is another innovation to the design that I intend to employ. Your mission, should you choose to accept it and enter my contest, is to send an email to: burrobird AT gmail DOT com, by midnight Pacific Daylight Time on July 31st, 2007, describing what you think that innovation is.
I will put all the entries into one basket to pull a prize winner, and all the correct entries into another basket for a separate prize. I have been collecting a few choice bits with a contest in mind, and the date of the drawing, August 1st, was selected in memory of my father, who would have celebrated his 84th birthday on that day. He developed Alzheimers in his early sixties and died in 1998, but I owe a great portion of my creativity to both his genes and his nurturance. A fitting reason for a contest celebrating the creativity of being a fiber artist, don't you think?