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How to Kettle-Dye Yarn with Kool-Aid

Are you inspired to get dyeing with Kool-Aid? I hope so!

Today, I’m going to tell you about the basics of Kool-Aid Dyeing, and show you how to achieve a kettle-dyed look.

Kool-Aid Dyeing Basics

You’ll need:

  • yarn made from natural animal-fibers (undyed is best)
  • a few packets of Kool-Aid (see yesterday’s post about testing colors)
  • a glass bowl or dish
  • boiling water or water + a microwave

The Process

Dyeing with Kool-Aid is super-easy: just add your Kool-Aid packets to some boiling water and dunk your yarn in! Easy!

I’ll show you, step-by-step, how I use the basic technique to get a lovely kettle-dyed yarn. ‘Kettle-dyed’ is the name for a yarn that’s mostly one color, but has a range of tones gently changing throughout the yarn. It’s beautiful and easy, so give it a try!

Step 1: Add packets to your bowl

I’m going to dye my yarn red, so I’ve added a couple of red packets to my glass bowl. You can either use packets that are the same color, or use a couple that are close in color:

Step 2: Add water and yarn

Your yarn is going to suck up color like there’s no tomorrow… so don’t worry about messing up. I added a small amount of boiling water, and then plunked my yarn in:

The yarn that’s touching the Kool-Aid-dyed-water is going to start drinking up the color. Notice how I’ve left some of the yarn out? That’s because I want the yarn to absorb the color unevenly. That’s what gives you the kettle-dyed look!

Step 3: Add more color/water until you’re happy!

You can continue to add packets of color and water until the yarn is the color you’d like. Here, I decided to pour some (hot) Kool-Aid water on top of the yarn:

If you don’t want to use boiling water, you can also use regular water, and then microwave the water + yarn so that the color will set.

See how mine looks?

Some parts are darker, some parts are lighter. Perfect!

You’ll notice that the dye is sucked up into the yarn, and the remaining water will be clear:

Step 4: Rinse and dry!

That’s it! You don’t have to wait any length of time… once the color is in the yarn, it’s in.

Squeeze the water out of your yarn and allow to dry. You’ll end up with a beautiful skein!


Isn’t it yummy? It’s a very subtle effect, and works up beautifully. I’ve made swatches in both knitting and crochet:

So lovely!

I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how yours turns out!




  1. Cool – I’ve only done the microwave version and I don’t like how it makes the microwave smell, so I’m definitely going to try your boiling water method :).

  2. fantastic – I just love this mottled look. I’m itching to try now! I’ve some cream hidden in my stash waiting for dyeing – now to decide what colour!

  3. It turned out such a yummy and pretty colour! Definitely on my craft list of things to do 🙂

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  5. Judy SAYS...

    Thank you for sharing! I am amazed at how easy this is, and how just the dye gets soaked up. It’s very interesting how just clear water is left behind.

    I love your soft tonal changes in the color. So tempting to run right out and get everything needed to start today!

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  7. wendy SAYS...

    I tried this twice and having no luck. I tried with a wool yarn and 100% cotton yarn. When I am pulling them out of the color and rinsing the kool aid just wash right out… sad. Do you need to wash the yarn before doing this? What could I be doing wrong? Please advise.

    • Wendy- Kool-aid dye won’t work with a cotton yarn. It should, however, work like a dream with the 100% wool yarn. You’re using a 100% white wool yarn, putting it in hot water & kool-aid and the color washes out of the yarn? I haven’t heard of that happening before…

  8. Deb R SAYS...

    How do you drape or spread out the yarn to dry after you’ve done all the dying? It seems like it would take up a whole lot of room.

    • The yarn is in a skein, so I just hang it over a towel rack or shower curtain bar. It doesn’t take that much room!

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  10. Paula SAYS...

    I need to make blue–does anyone know if one of the Koolaid packs will make a blue wool?

  11. Roving Knitter SAYS...

    With regard to the failure of white yarn taking the dye, some white yarns are bleached in their manufacturing process (which is why white yarns do not felt either). The best natural yarns to use are the off-whites – usually not bleached.