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Repurposing/Dyeing/Recycling Wool: Upcycling Old Sweaters with Koolaid

Updated on May 19, 2020

I sort of fell into dyeing wool. I started recycling wool yarn from sweaters purchased at thrift shops. But I found that most of the sweaters I found were the same colors, pink, red, orangey colors or a shade of white or beige.

So I did a little research on how to dye wool and found out I could dye wool with Koolaid. There are other types of dyes specifically made for dyeing materials like wool, but I wanted to give it a try immediately without having to order the dyes online and put a lot of time and expense into something I may or may not have continued to do.

Here is a link giving some pretty good instructions onusing Koolaid as a dye: . Here is a great tutorial on dyeing wool using the Paas easter egg dye:

I did was read through several tutorials and watch a couple of youtube videos before I got started. Then it was and still is trial and error.

Because most of the wool I used was not white, there is really no way to be absolutely sure what the resulting color will be.

In the photo below, I used an orange/rust yarn and was pleasantly surprised at the colors achieved using blue, yellow and red Koolaid.

Original color: orange, Using red, yellow and green Koolaid produced an array of reds, greens and gold.
Original color: orange, Using red, yellow and green Koolaid produced an array of reds, greens and gold.

I found my favorite method is the stovetop method. I used a large shallow stainless steel frying pan with just enough water to cover the yarn. I did use vinegar to help set the color. I used a dropper to add color the Koolaid dye. I mixed an entire packet into very little water so the color would be deep.

I found that I could get some really pretty colors using Koolaid. One of my favorite colors to use is the blue. The orange also gives some very vivid colors. I have mixed blue and yellow to get a nice green. The photo below is of some alpaca yarn I purchased at a nearby alpaca farm. The yarn was originally a kind of off white. Absolutely natural (and I do mean natural, still hat bits of hay and smelled like the farm.) I used blue and purple Koolaid. this was also washed afterwards with hair shampoo to remove the stinky farm smell.

The photo below shows the original peach cashmere and the dyed cashmere. This was also from a recycled cashmere sweater. With this one, I did not use the pan method because I wanted some areas to retain their original color.

I used a large plate and only dropped the dye in some places with sections of undyed yarn between. I like the effect.

I love dyeing recycled wool and the excitement of seeing what my newest concoction will look like. I still haven't ventured into purchasing dyes online. I like the idea of using something easily attainable from the supermarket or dollar store. Also, you don't have to use brand name Koolaid, I have used the Walmart brand, Great Value and others from the dollar stores.

A Virtuous Woman

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:24-26


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting article. The link goes to a very informative article on how to dye with easter egg dye! Thanks!

    • Rhelena profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome, thanks for getting back to me on that. :)

    • wordsmith2418 profile imageAUTHOR

      Veronica Lewis 

      8 years ago from Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

      I have also died crochet thread. But you can't use Koolaid. Koolaid only works on animal fibers. For cotton, you need a fabric dye. I've used the ones they sell in craft stores because of the nice choice in colors.

    • Rhelena profile image


      8 years ago

      I've never died my own yarn, but it sounds interesting. I'm wondering if the same method would work with crochet thread. Thanks for the link to the tutorial...


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