Today has been a really full day for us here in Furryland. When I woke up, I decided today was the day that my youngest would have a chance to Kool-Aid dye some yarn, because he was constantly pestering me about it. Wouldn’t you know there would be an issue in this grand plan somewhere? Issue number one: I don’t happen to have a swift yet! Although one has been ordered and should arrive sometime next week, one of the most important steps in preparing yarn for handpainting or dyeing is to put it in a skein (or hank). The balls of Paton’s Classic Wool had to be skeined, and I didn’t know what household item I could use to accomplish this task.
The piano bench, emptied and flipped upside down would have done the trick, and I was halfway through winding the ball into a skein around two of its legs when Cody asked, “How are you going to get the yarn off the legs?”
At that moment, my ambitious winding came to a screeching halt! I just sat there and stared at the legs of the piano bench. This idea of mine was working wonderfully until my teen brought this obvious issue to my attention — the legs on the piano bench have a little fancy woodwork on the ends which makes them a bit wider at the feet than where I was winding. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t even considered this! Issue number two! It wasn’t easy, but I was able to get that tightly-wrapped yarn off one leg without breaking a strand, and then finished off the ball of yarn. It was all different lengths when I was done, so I decided to look up something on the Internet: How to Make a PVC Niddy Noddy. I made a list and sent my DH to get the goods!
At Home Depot, he picked up a 10-foot length of 1/2-inch PVC pipe, four 1/2-inch PVC T-connectors, PVC glue and a ratcheting PVC cutter. With that little bit, he had enough to make two niddy noddies. It took him all of 15 minutes (maybe) to construct one perfectly simple, and more importantly, perfectly functional, PVC niddy noddy. Here’s how he made mine:
Measure for four 6-inch pieces and one 18″ piece of 1/2-inch PVC pipe.
Cleanly (and easily) cut those pieces with a ratcheting PVC cutter — no need for sandpaper with this handy tool!
Swab the inside of two 1/2-inch PVC T-connectors with PVC glue.
Attach the 6-inch pieces and the 18-inch piece to the T-connectors, making sure that one end is turned 90 degrees and all pieces fit as snugly as possible. Let dry according to the PVC glue specifications, and make another!
My boys were very interested in the whole process, even though they didn’t have a clue what the niddy noddy was for. So once the glue had dried on my new niddy noddies, I found directions on how to use them, which also included a brief summary of their uses (if you don’t have a clue either). I got started making a skein right away, because most of the day had passed by this time and my youngest was anxious about dyeing his yarn. Of course, with all that winding, my arms got tired halfway through, so I taught my teen how to use it and he finished making the skein for me!
Now it was finally ready to be tied in numerous places to keep it from getting tangled during the wetting, dyeing, steaming and washing process. I used some scrap white acrylic I had in my stash to tie the skein in eight different places. These scraps of acrylic will not dye with the wool, because Kool-Aid does not do anything on cotton or synthetic fibers; only animal fibers, silk and nylon. The yarn soaked in the wetting bath for an hour or so (this is to make sure the yarn is soaked through and all the air bubbles are gone before dyeing).
When the kitchen had finally been sufficiently prepared for a six year-old’s attempt at handpainting yarn with Kool-Aid, we got to work. He did a pretty good job at it too once he learned how to upend the squirt bottle without prematurely squeezing it and shooting Kool-Aid across the table. He chose to dye his yarn with Lemon-Lime, Cherry and Orange Kool-Aid, and we call it Tuti Fruti. The image on the left shows his handpainted yarn wrapped up in plastic wrap like a sausage in a colander, waiting to be steamed by the water in the pot below.
After it steamed for half an hour, I placed the colander outside on the deck to cool down. When it was cool enough, I brought it back in and gave it a Kookaburra Wool Wash bath and rinse to get any excess Kool-Aid out of the yarn.
Now it’s hanging on a towel rack in the bathroom to dry overnight. It’ll probably still be damp in spots tomorrow, so I’ll take it outside to hang in the sun to finish drying, and that shouldn’t take long at all. Tomorrow after it’s dry, I plan on using my wool winder and making a yarn cake out of it, and knitting a nice stockinette swatch for everyone in blogland to see what my sweet little boy has made. My teen is dying (pun intended!) to get his hands into this new creative outlet too, so we’ll be handpainting his yarn tomorrow. Good things are coming!
Until the next post, I’ll leave you with this… the perfect ending to a most wonderful day in Furryland. While we were handpainting yarn for ourselves, God was handpainting His sky for all of His children to enjoy. Isn’t it beautiful? I think these colors will have a future in fiber someday soon… 😉
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