Breaking Black (Bad) – Upstate NY

Over the same weekend, four of us, in four different places (Chicago, San Francisco, Upstate NY, and New Zealand), experimented with breaking black food coloring to dye yarn. Here’s how it worked out in Upstate New York. The experiment has since been referred to by all as the great Breaking Bad experiment.

I used a full skein (436 yards) of Wool2Dye4 Platinum Sock, which is a superwash merino fingering weight yarn. I soaked the yarn overnight in water to prepare it for dyeing.

I don’t plan out what I’m doing before I start, I usually just add dye willy nilly until I like the results but in this case I actually DID take notes, shocking really! Just for everyone reading the blog. I started out by gently spreading the yarn out in a crock pot and covering it with just enough water that they yarn could be fully submerged but not allow the dye to move freely.

I turned the heat on the crock pot to high and gave the water just a few minutes to start heating up. I then took approximately 1/8th tsp of Wilton’s black concentrated gel icing and added it to 1 cup of hot water and mixed very well until all of the color had dissolved (water turned a dark green).  I then poured the dye over the yarn in a pattern that I liked, making sure to concentrate it in a couple of places

I did this twice more to get a saturated color

I then added ¾ cup of vinegar to set the dye, and let it sit until it hit 170°F to allow the dye set and fully absorb.  The crock pot and yarn was then allowed to cool to room temperature, and after drying it looked like this:

So I decided to fix it with 2 packets of Mixed Berry Kool-Aid (no sugar) added to yarn that had been soaked over night and heated to 170F again (basic difference is that no vinegar is added to the crock pot because KA already has citric acid). I chose Mixed Berry because I thought that blue would compliment the green and purple that I got from breaking bad and help intensify the colors. I was sort of right, and sort of wrong, but the result speaks for itself.

I ended up with this beauty, which I love knit up! The KA seemed to mute the green and intensify the purple all at once, plus it added patches of intense blue. I may add even more blue to it later but I’m leaving it for now.


2 responses to “Breaking Black (Bad) – Upstate NY

  1. Carolyn, your science experiment is a huge success. I so love how muted and subtle your blues, greens and purples came out – such a surprise because the pot picture, it looks so bright. A+++++++

  2. I really like how this turned out – and you made Janice happy by doing a swatch! Good job. The colors are so subtle, and really calming. I wonder if adding vinegar anyway to the Kool Aid part would have made it brighter? I had no idea until your post the KA had citric acid already and wouldn’t need more acid. Very cool!

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