Dyeing Playsilks with Kool-Aid

This past weekend my MIL and I decided to try our hand at dyeing playsilks. The problem is that a cursory Google search brought up so many different ways to dye; whose instructions did we choose to follow? This was a lesson in experimentation, and the object of this post is to pass on what I learned to you.

What are playsilks?

Silk scarves

Silk scarves or veils, essentially. They’re called playsilks when given to children to use for non-scarf or veil purposes. They’re cheap to buy and fun to dye! You could, of course, use them as scarves or veils; you could also use them to wrap presents, make a cape, decorate a play-house… the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.

Silk, as an animal fibre, requires you to use acid dyes. Fortunately this isn’t expensive; two cheap, safe dyes to use are Kool-Aid and cake dye.

The Basics

What you will need:

Dyeing Equipment
Dyeing Equipment

Silk scarves – I bought a bulk of 12 of the 35 x 35 size. This is a decently large size, although for playsilks for play-houses you’d probably wish to use a larger veil. The machine-hemmed 8mm Habotai silk came highly recommended on many sites.
Kool-Aid – I got the 48 variety pack, but next time I would buy individual packets in bulk. We had far too many reds and pinks (black cherry, strawberry, strawberry lemonade and strawberry-kiwi all produced fairly similar colours) and no yellow or blue.
Condiment bottles – fantastic for applying dye. These were purchased at Target.
Plastic wrap (Saran wrap, cling-film) – check that it’s able to be used in the microwave! My packet said it was able to be used for around 2 minutes in a standard microwave.
Rubber bands – this is if you wish to do any tie-dyeing.
Cheap, white vinegar – several sites stated that when dyeing with Kool-Aid, vinegar is not required, but enough dyeing recipes contain it that I decided to err on the side of caution.

You might wish to avoid this...
You might wish to avoid this…

What you should already have around the house:
Large saucepan – big enough to soak your scarves in.
Bucket – I found this easiest for grad-dyeing purposes.
Glass bowls – preferable to metal bowls when using vinegar.
Measuring cup – although in my opinion you could probably estimate the quantities and you’d be fine.
Paper towels or reusable towels – we bought a couple of packs of Terry cloth kitchen towels from Costco; they wash easily and it doesn’t matter if they get dye on them.
Gloves – or you can simply dye your fingers, as I did.
Microwave – this makes fixing a tie-dye or freehand dye SO easy!
Funnels – for getting the liquid into the condiment bottles without spilling any.


Soaking the silks
Soaking the silks
  1. Fill a large saucepan with hot water. Add a little vinegar – I used a cup; an exact measurement isn’t required.
  2. Soak your silk scarves in the saucepan – as many as you can fit. I fit all 12 in the saucepan at once. To maintain the heat of the water I placed it on a stove hob on low.
  3. Have your husband exclaim, ‘what the hell is that?’ as he catches a whiff of silk soaking in watery vinegar. Yum!
  4. Soak the silk scarves for around half an hour.
  5. Before dyeing, wring out a scarf to remove excess water.

Now you can dye!

There are various methods of dyeing playsilks – most of the instructions for dyeing playsilks that can be found online are for single-coloured playsilks, which is a little boring. We wanted to experiment! So without further ado, here are instructions for dyeing playsilks in a variety of ways:

Single-colour solid dye

  1. Fill a glass bowl (preferred, although a stainless steel or plastic bowl will suffice) with 5 cups of water, 1 cup of white vinegar.
  2. Add the Kool-Aid; I found 3 packs of Kool-Aid for one 35 x 35 scarf gave a deep, rich colour. Experiment with mixing colours; for example, 2 x black cherry and 1 x ice-blue lemonade produced a nice, plummy purple.
  3. Thoroughly soak the scarf in the dye for up to half an hour, although I found ten minutes was usually long enough. I used a chop-stick to swirl the scarf around in the water to ensure it was thoroughly soaked.

Tie-Dye or Freehand-Dye, using the microwave

Dye in bottles!
Dye in bottles!
  1. Prepare your dye in the condiment bottles. There are so many different recipes to be found online, and to be honest we didn’t find there was a real difference in the colour produced whatever recipe we used! We found 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 3 packets of Kool-Aid gave a nice, vivid colour in an easy-to-handle quantity.
  2. Lay a quantity of plastic wrap on your table, long enough to cover the full length of the scarf.
  3. Lay the scarf on the plastic wrap. If you’re tie-dyeing, you’ll want to tie up sections of the scarf with rubber bands. Since the plastic wrap likely isn’t wide enough to cover the full width of the scarf, fold the scarf up concertina-style.
  4. Apply the dye! I recommend pouring on the lighter colours first. Bear in mind that the dye is going to run a little along the creases of the fabric (I love this effect).
  5. Blot the dye using kitchen towels.
  6. Fold in the plastic-wrap and scrunch at the top to hold in place. The silk scarf and dye should be fully contained.

    Ready for the microwave
    Ready for the microwave
  7. Place in a microwave-safe dish  – I used a glass pastry dish, which was perfect for the job. Heat in four 40-second intervals. Check the plastic wrap each time; if you fear it might melt, remove from the microwave.
  8. Unwrap the silk scarf over the sink. Be careful; the silk, dye and plastic wrap will all likely be extremely hot! Rinse the silk scarf in cold water.
  9. Hang to dry.

Learn from my mistakes:

Can you say ugly?!
Can you say ugly?!

Left is my first dyed silk scarf. I had sectioned the wrap into three using rubber bands. Keep the rubber bands for creating circles or other interesting shapes; here it just creates an ugly, uneven line between the dye colours. If you wish to create a freehand gradation, forgo the rubber bands and just scrunch up the scarf.

Freehand gradation
Freehand gradation

I was much happier with the gradation I produced on the right. It was almost exactly what I wanted, except that there was too much red and not enough orange. Apply the lighter colour first, and make sure your reds are not too similar! There are actually two reds used here; black cherry and strawberry. I should have added ice-blue lemonade to the black cherry to produce more of a purple. This was produced by scrunching up the scarf concertina-style, then simply squeezing the dye out onto the silk.

My MIL's tie-dye
My MIL’s tie-dye

My MIL’s tie-dye produced a far more pleasing result than my attempts; she opted for circles rather than lines. Much prettier!

These dye jobs used black cherry, strawberry and orange. I definitely recommend buying additional packets of blue Kool-Aid to add variation to your dye jobs! We ended up with so many red and orange silk scarves.

This was definitely the quickest and easiest way to dye the scarves, and I highly recommend this method for older children – so fun!

Single colour gradation dye, using a bucket

Single colour gradation
Single colour gradation
  1. Prepare the dye as for a solid colour dye job; 5 cups of hot water, 1 cup of vinegar, and 3 packets of Kool-Aid. I found 3 packets was perfect; the silk scarf soaked up 2 packets too quickly, and with 4 packets I found I needed to dip the scarf more slowly. Place the dye in a bucket.
  2. Scrunch up your damp scarf concertina-style.
  3. Dip one end of the scarf into the water; about 2-3 inches deep.

    Dry, ironed and in use
    Dry, ironed and in use
  4. Every 30 seconds, lower the scarf a further 2-3 inches into the dye. I used a chop-stick to thoroughly swirl the dipped end.
  5. The dye should be mostly gone by the time you reach the top of your scarf (remember, this is for a 35 x 35 scarf; you may wish to reduce or increase the intensity of the dye mix depending on the size of your scarf). Dip the entire scarf into the water, swirl around for a further 30 seconds, then withdraw. Rinse in cold water and hang to dry.
  6. For a more precise and more even gradation, you could suspend the silk scarf above the bucket using a hanger. And try to avoid the silk touching the side of the bucket; a few dark specks of dye made their way onto the scarf this way!
  7. For a 2 colour gradation, simply dip one end in one colour following the above instructions, but stopping mid-way up the scarf. Turn the scarf around and dip the other end into a second colour.

Learn from my mistakes:

'Watermelon', aka an attempt to fix a mistake
‘Watermelon’, aka an attempt to fix a mistake

The first time I tried this, I wanted to do a green gradation. I only had two packets of lemon-lime Kool-Aid left. I lowered the silk scarf into the dye every minute instead of every 30 seconds, and as a result all of the dye had been soaked up by the silk before I had a chance to finish. I was left with a distinct green line where the dye had run out. The 1 minute interval was also too long; as you can see, it is not as smooth a gradation dye job as the orange is.

When adding the pink, I was careful not to go too near the green; it would have produced an ugly brown otherwise!

The ugly scarf in use
The ugly scarf in use (please excuse the blur; my phone does not like fast-moving toddlers!)

Remember: The silk scarves look better when dry and in use, so don’t worry *too* much about getting the perfect dye job! I dyed one scarf that looks rather ugly when laid flat – on two ends there’s a smooth(ish) grad effect, with a rather random unevenly-applied freehand orange stripe in the middle (not sure what I was thinking!). However, it looks quite pretty when in use.

Have fun!

April 2012 FTM Census Results

And the survey says…

Thank you for your participation, mamas! In total the census was answered 91 times. Even allowing for a few duplicated answers, an impressive number of you responded! Without further ado, here are the results:

Question 1: How old are you now?

Unsurprisingly, 65% of you are between the ages of 26 and 34. In 2008 the average age of the first time mother was 25, with a higher percentage of babies being born to mothers aged 35 and older than to mothers in their teens. Those of you who feared you were in the significant minority at age 30 or higher, fear not; mamas over the age of 30 actually account for a whopping 45%. That is very nearly half of all respondents!

17 or under: 0 entries
18 – 21: 5 entries
22 – 25: 17 entries
26 – 29: 28 entries
30 – 34: 31 entries
35 – 39: 7 entries
40+: 3 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 2: How old were you when you lost your virginity?

According to the Kinsey Institute, the average age at which an American girl loses her virginity is 17.3 years. According to April FTM, that average is closer to being 16.3 years! 44% of you lost your virginity aged 16 or younger. In 2002, 46% of girls in the U.S. had had sex by the age of 19. Amongst April FTM, nearly 80% had had sex by the age of 19!

16 or under: 40 entries
17: 12 entries
18: 10 entries
19: 10 entries
20: 3 entries
21: 7 entries
22 – 25: 7 entries
25+: 2 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 3: What is your marital status?

Despite a record 4 in 10 births – 41% – being to unmarried mothers in the U.S. in 2008, 78% of April FTM are married. This percentage may actually be even higher, as we received 94 responses to this question, indicating that up to 3 of you ticked multiple boxes. An additional 9 mamas are in domestic partnerships; in other words, nearly 9 out of 10 births amongst April FTM were to mamas in committed relationships.

Editor’s Note: This question could have been worded better. It is, of course, quite possible to have been divorced but currently married, or to be single as a result of being widowed. Additionally, the idiot creator of this census forgot to include the option ‘in a relationship’. I’m actually surprised not more mamas opted for the eloquent description, ‘complicated’.

Single: 4 entries
Divorced: 3 entries
Domestic Partnership: 9 entries
Married: 74 entries
Widowed: 1 entries
Complicated: 3 entries
Total: 94 entries

Question 4: How did you conceive your baby?

4 in 10 births amongst April FTM were unplanned. 7 mamas – 8% of the total respondents – had medical assistance in conceiving their baby. That leaves a nicely even 50% of you whose conceptions were planned with no medical assistance. Of course, mamas whose babies were unplanned, but who were not actively preventing, fall into an admittedly murky category; perhaps ‘casually trying’ may have been a better descriptor?

Unplanned, but not preventing: 25 entries
Unplanned, actively preventing: 13 entries
Planned, no medical assistance: 46 entries
Planned, medical assistance: 7 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 5: What is your combined household income?

This is a tricky question. Do you answer with your gross household income, or your net household income? Do you include merely your wages and salaries, or do you also include unemployment insurance, disability payments, etc., as the U.S. government does when calculating the median household income?

Regardless, 71% of you consider yourselves to have a combined household income higher than the 2011 median U.S. household income of $50,502. A considerable third of you have a combined household income of greater than $100,000. Then again, we received 98 responses to this question, so a few of you may have been merely confused.

Editor’s Note: Those of you wishing to make a charitable contribution may write checks payable to Rachel S. – Thank you.

<$19,999: 4 entries
$20,000 – $29,999: 8 entries
$30,000 – $39,999: 4 entries
$40,000 – $49,999: 10 entries
$50,000 – $59,999: 9 entries
$60,000 – $69,999: 7 entries
$70,000 – $79,999: 7 entries
$80,000 – $89,999: 4 entries
$90,000 – $99,999: 8 entries
$100,000 – $149,999: 18 entries
$150,000+: 12 entries
Total: 98 entries

Question 6: Who earns more – you or your SO?

We have one mama who answered both ‘I earn more’ and ‘My SO earns more’. Regardless, a third – 34% – of April FTM earn more than their significant others. If you consider that a significant proportion of the mamas whose SOs earn more are likely SAHMs, then a far greater percentage of working mamas are earning more than their significant others. How many of us are also doing the lion’s share of housework and caring for our babies, I wonder?

As an aside, only one mama answered ‘I do not have an SO’, yet in a previous question four mamas considered themselves to be ‘single’. Perhaps due to that pesky lack of a ‘in a relationship’ answer?

I do: 31 entries
My SO does: 60 entries
I do not have an SO: 1 entries
Total: 92 entries

Question 7: Describe Your Religion:

In case you are curious, here are the original worded answers:

  • Agnostic
  • Jewish
  • Roman Catholic
  • Not really practicing anything specific… does humanism count?
  • Christian; believe in God but don’t go to church.
  • Christian; believe in God, attend church regularly.
  • Christian; Protestant
  • Spiritual, but not practicing. Baptized and confirmed Lutheran as a child and teenager.
  • No religion – somewhat atheist
  • Christian, Bible believing.
  • Not religious, skeptic.
  • I don’t have one.
  • Catholic
  • Christian
  • Agnostic, but spiritual
  • Christian
  • Grew up with the family being Methodist but just went to church occasionally. Went with friends to all types of denominations. I want to start going back to church (Methodist) but DH only wants to go to his parents non-denominational church which meets in a school. I want LO to be in an established church. I’m willing to find other established churches if DH is willing.
  • Secular traditionalist (earth based spirituality)
  • Christian
  • Inconclusive.
  • Questioning
  • Christian
  • Non-Denominational Christian
  • N/A
  • I grew up Methodist but I am now no longer active in a church.
  • Christian
  • Methodist
  • Jewish
  • Believe in God and Jesus but don’t practice.
  • Humanistic pantheist (pagan)
  • Christian, but haven’t gone to church in a while.
  • I am LDS.
  • Non
  • I was raised Pentecostal. Laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, the whole nine. Wasn’t for me. I haven’t been to church since I was 16.
  • Catholic
  • Christian – more spiritual than religious
  • I believe in something.
  • Christian
  • Catholic
  • Protestant: United Church of Canada, which is an amalgamation of Presbyterian and Methodist (been around since the 1920’s). Pretty much the most liberal Christian Church in Canada, and the first to wholeheartedly support same-sex marriage (yay!). Both of our ministers (one male, one female) are gay, with long-time partners. Rev. Norm and his Husband have two adopted daughters! I love being a member of such a forward-thinking and inclusive congregation!
  • Atheist
  • Believe in god, but don’t go to church
  • Roman Catholic
  • I need to find God again.
  • Methodist
  • Non-practicing Catholic
  • Catholic
  • Southern baptist
  • Non-denominational Christian
  • Open
  • More spiritual, don’t attend church or follow a particular sect.
  • Minimal
  • Baptist
  • Evangelical Christian
  • Lutheran… but more on the Christian side. We don’t attend church regularly… Although I would love to bring LO to church, DF is Catholic (even though he hasn’t been to church in ages) and we can’t agree on how to raise her.
  • Methodist
  • Ex-mormon. I am a spiritual person, but do not subscribe to any particular religious philosophy. I do consider myself somewhat Christian, as in I believe the principles taught by Jesus, but I do not attend any Christian church. I love gay people and have to find a religion to accommodate that stance before I would ever consider attending church again.
  • Christian (Mormon)
  • Not religious. I do believe in being a good person and random acts of kindness.
  • I don’t really have one.
  • Christian – non-denominational
  • Not religious
  • Presbyterian.
  • Christian
  • Trying to become more actively involved
  • Christianity
  • Christian
  • Catholic
  • Catholic
  • Christian
  • We aren’t actively practicing any religion right now.
  • Non denominational. DH is Catholic, and LO was baptized Catholic.
  • Lutheran
  • Catholic
  • Christian
  • Baptist. God loving. Christian.
  • Christian
  • Christian.
  • Christianity – more Baptist style
  • Christian
  • Nothing specific. Agnostic?
  • I am strong in my faith as a Christian, however, I am a VERY non-judgemental person and extremely open-minded, so you would probably never guess that I am a strong Christian. Do I go to church every Sunday? Nope. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the last time I was in a church… probably for a wedding if I had to guess. Do I pray every day? Yes. Multiple times a day. I think that what it all boils down to it being a good person. I do believe in God, and I believe that Jesus died for us. If you don’t believe that… cool. Don’t try to change what I believe, and I won’t try to change what you believe. So I am definitely strong in my faith, but certainly not in the pushy, judge you for not believing the same thing, way. 🙂
  • Non-denominational Christian
  • Good question
  • Lutheran
  • Christianity with my own flaws
  • Christian.
  • Raised catholic, practice non denomination. Still observe some Catholicism
  • Christian, Christ follower, live by the Bible, love everyone regardless of background, and try to get my strength from Christ!
  • Roman Catholic, we believe in Virgin Mary, in confession, and that God is present in the host.
  • Agnostic

Question 8: How many sexual partners have you had?

Firstly, we received 93 responses to this question, so at least one mama chose two answers. Dear mama: You’re not very good at math!

This question produced an interesting set of results, with the answers skewed towards either end of the scale; nearly 50% of you have either had just one partner, or ten or more. The other 50% of you were distributed fairly evenly between the remaining answers (2 to 9 sexual partners).

1: 18 entries
2: 4 entries
3: 7 entries
4: 6 entries
5: 8 entries
6: 5 entries
7: 8 entries
8: 4 entries
9: 5 entries
10+: 28 entries
Total: 93 entries

Question 9: Have you ever cheated on your SO, or been cheated on by your SO? This applies to your current relationship only!

Once again, the creator of this survey forgot to include an option for mamas currently not in relationships.

One confused mama selected two answers.

A naughty nine of you have cheated on your significant other! A saddening four of you have been cheated on – or suspect you have been cheated on. A further three of you have both cheated on, and been cheated on.

This question does not accommodate mamas in open relationships – for that, the creator apologises.

Neither of us have cheated: 76 entries
I have cheated: 9 entries
My SO has cheated: 3 entries
I suspect, but do not know, my SO has cheated: 1 entries
We have both cheated: 3 entries
Total: 92 entries

Question 10: Have you had any surgical enhancements?

A paltry two of you have had your bountiful bosom enhanced. One of you has had multiple enhancements. The vast majority of our April FTM have avoided the cosmetic surgeon’s knife.

US plastic surgery is enjoying a boom, despite the economy? From our April FTMs’ results, you wouldn’t know!

No: 88 entries
Yes – my bountiful breasts: 2 entries
Yes – my nose: 0 entries
Yes – botox: 0 entries
Yes – my luscious lips: 0 entries
Yes – my shapely behind: 0 entries
Yes – other: 0 entries
Yes – multiple above: 1 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 11: How solid is your relationship?

A rocking 83% of you are in a rock solid relationship! Rock on! Only one mama considers herself to be single. That leaves 15% of you who are uncertain as to the future of your relationship. To you I say, best wishes!

Rock solid: 76 entries
It’s new – I have no idea: 0 entries
Shaky – I can see us splitting up in the near future: 6 entries
It’s firm, but we may be separated in the distant future: 8 entries
I am not in a relationship: 1 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 12: Have you ever done an illegal drug?

Only a third of you have been good, law-abiding citizens when it comes to hallucinogenic substances. A second third of you have only tried marijuana, and the third third of you have tried various others.

No: 31 entries
No, but the drug is legal in my country, while being illegal in the US: 0 entries
Yes, marijuana: 31 entries
Yes, but not marijuana: 1 entries
Yes, marijuana and others: 28 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 13: Who did you vote for in the last U.S. election? If you did not or could not vote, who would you have voted for?

58% of you – a little over half, or nearly two thirds, depending on your perspective – did or would have voted for Barack Obama. The rest of you would have preferred to see Mr. Romney as president.

Barack Obama: 53 entries
Mitt Romney: 38 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 14: Pick one to describe your political affiliation (my apologies to our non-U.S. mamas!):

93 answers to this question. Considering that 55 mamas replied that they were of a liberal persuasion, but that only 53 mamas did or would have voted for Barack Obama, we may deduce that two mamas answered both ‘Democatic’ and ‘Other (Liberal)’. Essentially, just over half of you are of a liberal political persuasion.

Democrat: 26 entries
Republican: 28 entries
Other (Liberal): 29 entries
Other (Conservative): 10 entries
Total: 93 entries

Question 15: What is your stance on gay marriage?

77% – or three quarters – of you are for gamarriage!

I am FOR gay marriage: 70 entries
I am AGAINST gay marriage: 21 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 16: What is your stance on the legalisation of marijuana?

Seven out of ten of you support marijuana becoming legalised.

I am FOR legalisation: 63 entries
I am AGAINST legalisation: 28 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 17: Which answer best describes your opinion on abortion?

There were four main answers to this question, and April FTM were divided pretty evenly amongst them. Excluding the one mama who opted out of responding to the question, exactly 50% of you support a woman’s right to choose, regardless of your personal beliefs, and 50% of you are in favour of severely restricting a woman’s right to abortion, or abolishing it altogether.

Editor’s Note: It would have been interesting to see if/how mamas’ stances have changed since giving birth.

I support a woman’s right to choose: 25 entries
I find it distasteful and would encourage women not to have an abortion, but feel it should remain legal: 20 entries
I support it only for certain medical reasons and/or rape: 24 entries
I am not a supporter of abortion: 22 entries
I prefer to opt out of answering this question: 1 entries
Total: 91 entries

Question 18: Which answer best describes your stance on the death penalty?

In 2011, support of the death penalty in the U.S. fell to a record low of 62%. Funnily enough, 62% of our April FTM are in favour of the death penalty. Another 18% are sometimes tempted to support it upon reading the news.

Aside: In the U.K. and in Canada, where the death penalty was formally abolished in 1965 and 1976 respectively, roughly half the population is in favour of it.

Editor’s Note: As with the abortion question, it would have been interesting to see if/how mamas’ stances have changed since giving birth. Crime news seems to hit harder once you gain the empathy of a parent.

I support the death penalty: 57 entries
I do not support the death penalty: 12 entries
I do not support the death penalty, but my opinion waivers when I read some of the ghastly news stories: 16 entries
I prefer to not answer this question: 6 entries
Total: 91 entries