Weave Experiments

Weaving Experiment || Dip Dyeing Cotton String

Dip dyeing cotton string!In my last post on our loom-less weave, I talked about how I wanted to add a bit more color to it. I decided to try dip-dyeing the bottom of the fringe.

If you remember, a while back, I had dyed some wool yarn using Kool-aid and it turned out really nice. I thought why not try dyeing the cotton string fringe in a similar way.

What I did to dye my string was:

step1|| I combined one packet of purple Kool-aid powder and one packet of blue Kool-aid powder into a 4 cup jar and put it aside.

step2|| next in a glass measure cup, I mixed ¼ cup of vinegar with 3 cups of water and then microwaved it until it boiled.

Dip dyeing cotton string!step3|| pour the hot water/vinegar into the jar and stir it until all the Kool-aid dissolves.

step4|| put your cotton string into the jar, I balanced mine so that only the amount of string I wanted to get dyed went into the dye bath.

step5|| let the string sit in the dye bath for an hour.

step6|| remove the string, rinse it and then let it dry.

Here’s where I learned some lessons about dyeing cotton. First, it’s pretty stubborn and doesn’t absorb dye like wool does. When I dyed the wool, I waited until the dye bath was almost clear and then took the wool out. With the cotton the dye bath stayed dark with color. On the plus side, I didn’t have to worry about the cotton felting together in the hot water like wool easily can.

Dip dyeing cotton string!I also found that once I rinsed the cotton string, a lot of the color came out (bummer). Instead of the deep blue/purple I was going for, what I was left with was a pastel rose. I tried to dye the string a few more times, but not much more color was absorbed. This is only my second time dyeing and the first time dyeing cotton, so there could be a trick that I’m missing. Or maybe it’s the Kool-aid that is the wrong approach. Either way, I thought the experiment was fun and worth it.

I dyed my string up to the bottom knot. If you noticed at the edge of where the knot came out of the dye bath, the color blue appeared and actually stayed even after the rinse. I decided to untie the knot and see what the string looked like. You can see a little bit of blue lines where the string was knotted. I think that was pretty interesting outcome and I might try dyeing with knots more in the future as a way to change how the dye takes to the string.

Dip dyeing cotton string!I re-tied my bottom knot higher then before and got more white with the blue showing in the knot and then the pastel rose in the bottom part of the fringe.

It wasn’t what I was hoping for, and it only kind of matches the colors I used in the top part of my weave, but I do like it. It definitely has more color then before and it’s much more interesting.

Dip dyeing cotton string!Is anyone a dyeing champion that has successfully dyed cotton before? I think I might have to use an actual commercial dye to get a better outcome. I do like to dye with the Kool-aid though, I don’t have to worry about using it in kitchen dishes and it smells nice.

Happy Weaving!


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  • Jen
    January 27, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Kool aid is an acid dye (citric acid). Acid dyes only work on protein based fibers–wool, silk, alpaca. Fibers from plants, or bast fibers (cotton, linen, hemp, ramie, rayon) do not take acid dye as their molecular structure is very different.

    I highly recommend researching dyes and how to use them. The Dharma trading site a great place to start.

    • Kate
      January 31, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks Jen, I’ll look up the site!

  • duck
    January 29, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Alas, kool-aid will not dye cotton the way it dyes wool and other protein fibers. To dye cotton, the easiest thing to do would be to get a commercial dye made for cotton. You can use natural dyes for cotton, but that’s quite a bit more involved.

    • Kate
      January 31, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      Thank you for the information, I’ll definitely look into this more.