If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see youΒ at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Don’t Drink the KoolAid

Dear Ann,
I went to visit Cristina on Wednesday. Cristina lives in Philadelphia. This used to mean that I got to knit for 3 hours each way on NJ Transit and then SEPTA. But that left little time for crafting (i.e., borrowing Cristina’s Pfaff), lunching, tea-ing, and yakking–before I had to turn around and get on the train back home. So the last two times, I have driven despite the toll it takes on knitting time.
I do get to listen to NPR and WFUV. All alone. And this time, I not only had sole and compleat power over the radio, but FOUR CDs that I won from Wendy (I can’t remember what I did to win the prize; I think I was the someteenth commenter on something). Despite her near-infancy, Wendy knows her way around a country song, and what’s more, the girl can rock. She gave me: John Prine’s Fair & Square, Iris DeMent’s Infamous Angel, Steve Earle’s The Revolution Starts Now and one I know you’re kinda fond of: Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose. (I think of Van Lear Rose as the Monteagle/Tailgate Soundtrack, October 2004).
Suffice it to say, I was wailin’ all the way down I-95 on Wednesday morning. Just twangin’ my heart out. I sang ‘It’s Hotter Than the Hy-Vee in My Heart” and was only a little bit surprised to find out the actual lyric is ‘It’s Hotter than Mojave In My Heart’ (I kinda like my version). When Iris’s momma came on, and she warbled a gospel tune about planting her feet on higher ground, the turnpike signs went blurry for a minute, but I kept singing through the moisture.
Then I got to Cristina’s. We inspected Weavettes, but we did not Weavette ourselves. We did a little lunching. Then we did some Tea. Then she gave me a hank of her local Hardware Store Yarn, a butter-colored fisherman’s wool, and 3 packs of Koolaid. She didn’t want to push it on me, but she thought Carrie might enjoy it. So, after some hemming and hawing (not being a wool person OR, since 1976, a KoolAid person), I took it home. (As a kid my dinnertime jobs were: set the table and make the Daily KoolAid. I think KoolAid was its own food group back then. Not for nothing, but it does have Vitamin C.)
So last night Carrie and I dyed some hardware store wool. Here’s how it went. Technical note: we did not use vinegar. Cristina said it was not necessary in her experience, and just made a bad smell (barnyardy/hardware store-y wool plus the chemical overtones of KoolAid) worse. So here we go:
Plain wool, badly in need of perking up with artificial colors and artificial flavors.
Put wool in water; bring water to the simmer. “It looks like spagetti, Mommy!” Indeed.
You mix the packets of KoolAid in a cup of water (we mixed them all together, 2 Mango and 1 Cherry).
Pour it in.
Then it looks like Spaghetti Marinara.
We had tied the skein loosely with cotton yarn, and discovered proof that you can’t dye cotton with KoolAid.
The wool quickly sucks all the dye out, leaving the water a milky white.
You let it cool, then you squeeze out the water and let it dry.
This morning, we had this lovely peachy-rose wool. It would take quite a lot of KoolAid to get a deep shade, but the colors of KoolAid are lovely.
I’m not complaining, but the wool smells really, really awful. Eau de KoolAid does not improve the scent of fisherman’s wool. I’m off to google ‘Eucalan stinky KoolAid’. If you know a good remedy for deskunking home-brewed wool, please pass it on.
Love, Kay
P.S. I’m laughing because the ‘Eucalan stinky Kool Aid’ search turned up a Knitter’s Review thread on the question. The cure? Vinegar bath!




  1. It’s the lanolin makes the bad smell, Kay. If you suck that wool, you get your ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and you moisturize your tongue.
    Elio’s up from his nap–‘scuse me while I kiss this guy (Cf. Purple Haze the song, not the cheese).
    xo, c.

  2. I’ve got four hanks of Knitpicks dye your own sock yarn that I’ve been wanting to Kool-Aid dye. Maybe you and Carrie (and Joseph) should wing your way over to NJ for a dye-fest! I’ll provide the munchkins. πŸ˜‰

  3. You can try soaking it in a little warm water with some Pantene shampoo w/comditioner it takes out the smell, just make sure not to stir it it will felt. once it is cool dump out the water and put in more warm water and let it soak until cool again and then drain and hang dry and it soulh smell alot better.

  4. Kay,
    You will be glad to know that John Prine (writer and singer of Sam Stone, Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You into Heaven Anymore, et al)has a lovely wife who knits. I will see the non-knitting half of the couple play at the world-famous Ryman Auditorium tonight!
    Cristina has fabulous taste in music–she needs to visit Music City and see some of those artists.
    One who keeps track of such things,
    PS Congrats on your Yankees clinching the AL East this afternoon.

  5. ooohhh…..what are your plans for the tangerine pasta?

  6. LOVE IT!!!
    That orange colour just makes me think of a curly-haired friend of yours!

  7. I will gladly take that smelly orange stuff off your hands.
    But if you decide to keep it, just use a little Suave Coconut creme rinse on it and it will smell superfantastic.

  8. Your life is just one big adventure, isn’t it?
    Oddly enough, there’s a chain of grocery stores called Hy-Vee. Maybe you knew that. And they’re hotter than . . . something.

  9. The coloring is cool, but I’m having a ball looking at the expressions of your cute little model/assistant. PRICELESS! πŸ™‚

  10. I still have grape scented socks from kool-aid dye. Letting it hang outside (loosely tied) in the wind while you squirt febreeze at it is the easiest and most effective way to get rid of stinky wool smell, and might work on the kool-aid, too.

  11. definately yes!….i also need most capable chef-boy joseph in my kitchen,….does he do dishes?

  12. Dyeing yarn is our favorite snow day project, it is the best for the mad young scientist contingent!
    We also use paste food colorings (Wilton, etc.) to great effect. We also love over-dyeing yarn. You get really luminous colors by taking yarn, say red, and overdyeing it with red food coloring paste. If you do it right, it glows! We do use vinegar but mild baby soap makes the vinegar smell goes away.
    Carrie is clearly a budding fiber lover!

  13. I love the yarn and the very capable and lovely assistance on the verge of her own fiber obsession, but I’m really beside myself at the thought of all those awesome CDs you were wailin’ to. I personally think that Iris Dement CD is among the top ten in my life EVER. I saw her perform in a little club in Birmingham and she is as cute in person as she sounds on CD. The recording of her mama, though? Gets on my nerves. Sweet the first time, but now I skip it. The song right before that one where she talks about her mama’s op-er-y? Is my favorite one of the whole CD. John Prine in the liner notes says he almost dropped his pork chop when he heard it the first time. Shows you what good taste you do have indeed.
    P.S. I used to drink so much Lime Kool Aid as a kid that I worried I had some sort of disease when it came out the other end the exact same color. TMI, I know, but still. That dye’s powerful stuff.

  14. When I have dyed wool with KoolAid, I mix vinegar in with the KoolAid. I also twist the yarn up in the hank and then you get interesting variations in the color. πŸ™‚
    I like the color you got in the end. I do think KoolAid makes my lovely shades, if limited in color pallete. πŸ™‚

  15. Wow, wool spaghetti and matzo balls. My mom, not Jewish by any remote connection, can make good matzo ball soup. Maybe the soupiness disguises any faults in the actual balls. I wish my kitchen helpers were as diligent!

  16. What’s all this about hardware store wool? You can get wool at the hardware store where you come from? Hmmm, must be some store….

  17. If you put a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar in the water the color is more instense, red and prurple are the most intense, orange is pretty good but the blues and greens do take more concentration… No vinegar = lighter colors.

  18. Word. I am THRILLED to hear that you love the muzak. Great stuff to lull and stimulate the heart!


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