Spinning, Kool-aid Dyeing, and Weaving Adventures

in NeedleWorkMonday4 months ago

The Adventure Begins with an Idea


I have been spinning roving (processed combed sheep's wool) for over 10 years. I had some wool that was scoured twice by me but still had quite a bit of lanolin still in the wool. Since I volunteer toe work with local kids at a Summer Reading Program (which includes an arts and crafts project), I decided that I wanted to teach them to weave. Here's the basic progress from start to finish.


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This is my Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. While it is a very basic wheel I still love her just as much today as when I got her.


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Here is a close up of the yarn I was spinning for this project. It's rough looking because I wanted to see what the spun wool would look like if I didn't comb it first. I wasn't a picky about the outcome since I knew it was for a weaving project, so it was a fun experiment.


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Here is a photo of the scoured (wool that is gently soaked in hot water with a special soap that removed the lanolin). It was clean but still sticky after two washes, so I wasn't going to make a knitting yarn out of this fiber.


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Again, I wasn't picky about the outcome. This is over-spun yarn and you can tell because of the highly energized twist. Some people do this on purpose. I wasn't worried about this outcome, though I don't try to over-spin my yarn typically. Due to the stickiness of the wool and the fact that I didn't comb the wool, you can see lots of irregularities the might be unwanted in a knitted garment but add extra texture to a woven fabric.


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I have wanted to dye with Kool-aid for some time now, so I thought this would be a fun project.


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I tried to make it as simple as possible after doing a little research on the internet.


The basic recipe was:

  • 2 to 3 packets of Kool-aid (the unsweetened)
  • a quart glass jar
  • tap water
  • yarn that I spun

First you need to pre-soak the yarn you are using in water. You only need to do this for 10 - 15 minutes so that the wool is completely saturated with water. This helps the wool receive the dyestuff completely.


I filled the glass jar with a pint of water and two packets of Kool-aid to start. I then used a little whisk to mix well. I used the Kool-aid flavors orange, black cherry, grape, and raspberry. The orange needed three packets since it was the lighter of the four.

Once I added the skein of yarn to the jar, I then added the rest of the water and placed in the hot summer sun. (The lid is off of the orange jar because the skein was a little big and I needed to push it down into the dye bath throughout the day.)


What's nice about using Kool-aid is that it is something that kids can replicate if you wanted to do a simple dye project and it smells like candy. :-)

After letting the yarn sit in the dye all day long, I took the skeins out and rinsed them in warm water and gently squeezing out the excess water. Then I hung them to dry.


The Weaving Project


Sadly, I am given a very limited time to work with the children on this weaving project, so I needed an example for them to follow.

Here I am using some cardboard at the framework of the loom. There are notches cut into the top of the cardboard in such a way that when we remove the final project has an opening at the top. (Sorry the photos aren't great. The motor on my camera was starting to die, although I didn't know it at the time.)

There are 15 notches evenly spaced on this example. You just need an uneven number of notches. Not only are you weaving the front of the cardboard but then you flip it to the backside to continue the weave.


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I did a simple weave with the needle going over and under every other warp thread. (The warp threads are the threads that are green in this photo above and below.)


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When you end the row going (I go from right to left) under the warp thread (green threads), when you flip the loom over you then continue the pattern and go over the next warp thread.

The simple weave pattern is over, under, repeat.


When I changed colors or just needed to start a new piece of yarn (you should probably only have a piece of yarn as long as your arm or things will get tangled), you will need to overlap the yarns. I will go into more weaving details in another post.


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Because the wool still had so much lanolin in it, the dye was resisted in many places in the yarn. I actually liked the effect very much. It was a quickly made project that I was donated all the supplies for and my time, so I wanted it to be a fun learning adventure for me, as well.


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I do plan on making more little bags, and maybe even a purse. I will document in more detail that project in the near future. I am currently going through my stash of zippers that I got at our local thrift store since I would like the little purses to be able to hold things and be a little more functional.


Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from those that have any questions.



All photos are mine and only can be used if you ask my permission. Thank you!

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Es increíble, no sabia que se podía hacer eso, cada día aprendemos algo nuevo, gracias.

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@cuddlekitten You are the BEST!!!!

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Cardboard looms are perfect for beginners! An easy introduction to the fun of weaving.

Agreed. Plus when there is a possibility for 20 plus children of all ages and almost no budget, then cardboard is the perfect option. I may make a medium size purse next and try my hand at some sort of tapestry-like design. Nothing too complicated and most of all FUN!

Dyeing wool with Kool-Aid is so easy and so much fun (and the yarn smells nice afterwards, too). Unfortunately the stuff is quite eepnsive in Germany, so I mostly use food colors for simple dyeing.

I had the Kool-aid packets just around the house, waiting for a project just like this one. I have no idea how much the individual packages cost since they were purchased a few years ago. How much are they in Germany?

Kool-Aid is mostly available via Ebay etc. and is ~ 1,30 to 2 USD. Here's a pic of some donated sockyarn (colorway aptly named "clown") which became a really lovely red thanks to Berry Cherry. I'm looking forward to easter, where afterwards all the easter egg colors are really cheap ;)

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Nice overdye effect! I've dyed with marigolds, Japanese indigo, indigo, onion skins, and log wood. I am still in the experimental phase right now and am just learning how much I need to grow in my garden then translates into dye-able plant matter.
And that's a great idea to purchase egg dye after Easter for dying yarn. I will have to try that myself!

This is a wonderful post. I really plan on doing more weaving this year. I love your spinning wheel. Great idea using the kool aid as a dye, I have experimented with natural dyes in the past, but have very little time at the moment to do that either. Thank you for the reminder though and so great to have you here sharing your wonderful skills with us all xxxx

Awe. Thanks for the kind words @trucklife-family!! It's nice to see so many creative people sharing their talents on one platform.
And yes, it IS hard to fit it all in. I am just thankful that there is snow on the ground and a fire in our wood burning stove. I have seeds to plant and gardens to plan......life is good.

This is really such a smart post thanks for sharing @yoginiofoz

Thanks for stopping by and commenting @smilestitches!

This looks like a lot of work but I like the outcome.
Haven't seen a spinning wheel like that

I enjoy the process and learning something new, so for me it's more fun then work. It's nice to listen to a audio book while spinning for hours. In the end I have yarn to use for a new project. :-)

Oh that's good to know.
Cheers and more success

very beautiful spinning wheel!!! I have never spun yarn. Lanolin is a very valuable thing in hand cream but I didn't know it was so hard to get it out of yarn. I remember how we did this kind of weaving at school - a hundred years ago 😀- in needlework lessons. you made me remember it😊 I'm shocked how you dyed the yarn! if it is such a coloring matter how can children drink it???? 😮🙈

Grape juice can stain your counter and clothes and we drink it. :-) When I lived in a college town, the squirrels used to have stained mouths when the walnuts were plentiful in the walnut trees. I wouldn't drink or give kids Kool-aid....but it was a fun dye to work with. Thanks for your comments @tali72.

Your post and photos really reminds me to be grateful of the clothing I have.
People make these pieces for us to wear with their bare hands still
mad respect to your dedication in honing the craft of wool spinning.

Hoping this message finds you and your family well!

Thanks for your thoughtful comment @jin-out. It's always good to reflect on the gifts we have, especially when so much goes into the things we buy. Craftsmanship is definitely something that should be taught in school. Just knowing where our food comes from and how clothes are made is a good start. Take care and be well.