Monday, November 16, 2009

Two new things today with acid dyes on wool yarn

Today I overdyed the raspberry I did yesterday to see how acid dyes do when absorbing more dye on top of what is already there. Not a problem. Now I have the color I originally wanted. So far, I have not found any drawbacks in the system I am using or with the dyes. I even tried to shock the bit of yarn on the left by rinsing in cold water right out of the hot dye bath. Nothing.
Which brings me to my very own wool joke- "How do you shock wool? Sneak up behind it and yell 'WOLF'!"
It's all good.

Next test was to see how light I can make the dye color. Everything up to now has had maximum absorption of the dye color.
To this dye bath I only added 1/64 teaspoon of sky blue dye. I got a little worried about 2 minutes into it and added another 1/64 teaspoon to make 1/32. The color is beautiful.
What I learned from this experience is that as the water heats, so does the color. It probably would have been okay left at the original amount but I do like this value and will use this measurement again on other pastel colors.
Since this is yarn my daughter will be using, I intend on overdyeing this a deeper blue tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Acid Dyes Day 2

Here are the wool yarns that will be dyed in the next few days.
I am going to start with the one on the left which is Merino wool that came from a donor named "Mama". I had about 4.5 ounces of it which is about 4 times the amount that I started with yesterday. I will have to adjust my dyes accordingly.
I opened the skein and loosely tied off the hank in four places to try and keep it from getting all knotted up in the dye bath.

Into the warm water it goes to pre-soak.

Once it got up to between 185 and 200 degrees F, I added the dye. The first color I wanted to try was a mix of the three primaries to see how my own mix of brown looks.
When it first went in, it looked like a rusty brown but those first 10 minutes can be deceiving.

The second yarn I chose to dye is simply labeled "wool". I will ask for more specifics. It is the same weight as the "Mama" wool.
For this color I want to try combining red and black for a maroon color.

Here are my end results. The brown is a dark chocolate color. Fantastic! Just what I wanted.
The maroon actually came out a deep raspberry which everyone around here loves but I am disappointed. I certainly will keep the color recipe but I wanted more of a blood red.
If I had this one to do over again, I would add a bit of yellow and less black to the mix. What this result tells me is there's a lot of blue in the black. I did not notice that when I dyed the small samples. So noted.
The other really fascinating thing about the maroon dyeing was that when I took the yarn out of the dye bath, there was hardly ANY color left in the water. I had used 1 1/2 teaspoons of dye powder with the brown and a bit more than 1/4 teaspoon with the maroon and used the same amount of wool. The left over dye in the bath was just a blush of pink! Conclusion wool absorbs WAY more dye than cotton and you can actually SEE what has been used when everything is said and done.
Rinsing wool is a dream compared to cotton. While we certainly do have to watch for the temperature difference when rinsing wool, within 1 minute we are done.
With both of these wool experiments, I used vinegar rather than the citric acid and must say that there is no stinky smell. Perhaps when I start using more dye and more vinegar, it will smell bad.
Next session will be about overdyeing and TRYING to shock the yarn so that it felts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Well yippy skippy, it's been a very good day!! I got my dyes late yesterday...I know!!!...and started experimenting with the wool gathered from the Yolo Wool Mill.
First thing to do was weigh the stuff. I had to get a ball park number for how much each color was going to weigh. Most of the pieces I have are about a half ounce in weight. All of the recipes I have start with the assumption that you are dying a pound of matter. Gotta do some calculating before I begin.

Into the pan of warm water the first bit went to soak.

When the yarn was ready, I added the dye powder and with my thermometer in the brew I slowly brought the temperature up to hover somewhere between 180 and 190 degrees F. At that point I added citric acid and let it simmer for 30 minutes. I wanted to try the alternative to vinegar. Later I will try it with the stinky stuff to see how bad it is in reality and how long it takes to get the smell to dissipate.

Finished. The wool on the left is single ply. The dyed red yarn is double. I will see if there is a difference when I dye the single stuff next.
Lovely deep red color. I only used 1/8+1/16 dye powder in 8 cups of water. It absorbs well. Rinses like a dream. Done is about 45 minutes total. Not bad.

Next, I dyed orange to see how mixing the colors worked. It's great! Very easy. There is about a 5 value difference between the yarn when the dye is first added to what the final intensity of color will be. When dry, the color is the same as when it comes out of the dye bath. No fading.

So let's see how it does on the beige and brown wools. I am going to dye them black.

This bit of yarn is extremely soft and comes apart easily.

When presoaking it absorbed the water quickly and easily.

End results- brilliant color with very little effort and very little chemicals and dye powder. The rinsing is minimal. Wow. Fabulous experience!
Tomorrow I will try using left over dyes and also I want to see what happens when I purposely shock the wool going from 180 degrees to cold water rinse. Pictures will follow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Hi all.
This week I am going to start experimenting with ways to dye wool using acid dyes and Procion MX dyes to compare the processes and the colors.
I will be using wool batting as well as spun yarn. I have access to a number of different kinds of wool and several other fabulous blends that I will document for you.
I will actually TRY to make the process fail as well as of course trying to make it work. It's all a part of testing the process to find if this is something that is as easy as it seems and perhaps that can be used in future projects and as marketable product.
Here is a picture of some carded wool that my husband made a few weeks ago at the Yolo Wool Mill "mill in". Nice job, Steve! Soft as a cloud.
I just ordered my dyes and a few other supplies so let the games begin!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chasing My Passion for Hand Dyed Silk

I made a big mistake yesterday. I was starting to dye the veils for A'Kai Silks and this run was to be a combo of orange with purple. In my excitement I dropped an entire bottle of purple dye in the center of this silk piece and the dark color splotted all over the orange portion. I said a VERY bad word and hopped around the dye studio punching the air with my fists. Then... I composed myself and started to work with it. Move the dye around. Add more orange.
As I have said in my QU classes, it is impossible to make an ugly piece of hand dyed silk. It's just flat out NOT something that a human can do. You can't. Zero possibilities. Even if you spill purple dye on top of orange dye.
Here is another picture of my mistake. It reminds me of a desert sunset. Jes, if you are looking at this- you may want me to make more of this because it is exquisite. This is why I keep coming back for more.
I could dye silk until my last breath escapes me. There isn't anything I would rather do.

Here are the veils I have finished. I have more curing in the dye studio right now. More pictures tomorrow. I am a happy dyer. A very, very happy dye baby.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Veil production begins

Today I start dyeing what you see above for A'kai Silks. 7 veils will be dyed today and then I'll work on the box of stuff sent as odds and ends. I'll show you what comes out of what I hope will be a productive week of dyeing.

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Woodland, California, United States
I am a fiber artist. I am a teacher. I am a Reverend. I teach, I create, I counsel, I listen.

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