Thursday, October 23, 2008

A wee lesson on dyeing

Last time I dyed I had multiple people express disappointment that I hadn't photographed and blogged the process.

Thankfully I learn from my mistakes!

Thus, my most recent batch of dyeing.... revealed!

Now, I can't take credit for the process at all. My favorite method of dyeing (and the one I use here) is the low-water immersion dyeing, as seen on Paula Birch's Dyeing Website. I don't deviate much from it... although she talks about dyeing fabric, I've expanded it to include dyeing fabric OR yarn.... with pretty impressive results.

So, starting out. Both the batches of yarn I was preparing to dye were purchased in ball form, so I had to skein them (i.e., pull them out from ball form). Thankfully I have a swift and didn't need an especially long hank, so it was an easy process. And boring process. (Read: I forgot to take photos). Once I have my skein, I'm pedantic enough that I try to tie it with alternate yarn (any waste yarn will do really) in at least four places - any less than this and I usually wind up with lots of tangles when I try to get them back into ball form.

But, once hanked, this is what they looked like.
Ready to dye

The one on the left is my swap yarn, 100g of Patonyle. The two on the right are Sean Sheep yarn, labelled "100% Australian wool", bought at the Warehouse for $1.99. And I'd understand if you're thinking about things that are too good to be true...

Next - the yarn needs a bath. This important with any yarn / fabric before dyeing but especially so with wool, as lanolin (naturally occurring in wool) and dye (of any sort) aren't the best of friends. Plus it gets any other chemicals, or random spots of dust / dirt, out as well. I bathe mine in dishsoap as it's particularly good at removing lanolin.
Wool having a bath

While the yarn is soaking (I try to leave it for 15+ minutes) I assemble all my tools that I'll need. I've discovered after some trial-and-error that doing it this way is preferrable to tearing around the house with dye all over hands (and sometimes body) trying to find that last, essential, item. Y'know, like gloves...
Tools for dyeing

Next I scrunch it up into as small containers I have that still fit the fabric. In this batch, I threw in a plain flat cloth nappy just for kicks and giggles as well.
Ready to Dye

Then I mix the dye (a couple teaspoons of dye powder, more or less depending on shade required, with a cup of water) and pour over the fabric. For this lot, I did the on the left (with the cloth nappy in it) solid purple, and the batch on the right in orange (made with guesswork of mixing a lot of yellow with a very little red) and black. Aim was to get something vaguely tiger-like, but to be honest I haven't used multiple colours dyeing yarn this way before so it was a bit of guesswork as well too. (I have, however, dyed fabric this way before and it works a treat.)
Dyeing in progress

Then I add water until it 'mostly' covers the fabric / yarn. In a few cases I have to weight down the yarn so it doesn't just float on top - this is what I did on the right.
Dyeing in progress

The fact that most of the dye on the tub in the right rinsed out when I added the extra water was my first and most telling sign that I would not get the tiger-ish colouring I was hoping for. It's normal for the dye to lighten a touch (as it did on the left) but not to rinse nearly completely out.

Then it sits.

Then I add some dissolved soda ash to it, and let it sit some more.

Then I rinse it out - and it's in this stage one should start seeing close to the final product of the dyeing.
Yarn Swap yarn

And after that, it just needs to dry. How aggressive I am at squeezing the water out depends on the yarn.... pure wool I'm pretty careful with, the Patonyle I knew I could be a bit rougher with. Then it just hangs, to dry.

And yes, the yarn is mauve. Almost peach. Nothing like tigers. Bah. I'm blaming it on the yarn. It did cross my mind that perhaps I should have stripped it more (there are several other methods of doing this) but quite frankly I've never had to do more than a dishsoap soak with any yarn I've ever dyed, be it with Procion dyes or food colouring. Ever. So I'm actually starting to be a bit suss that the label is correct when it calls the yarn "100% wool". That or it's been treated with something very funny indeed. Then again, maybe they just have really weird sheep in Australia.

Finally, once it's dry... I twist it up nicely, or wind it. And marvel at the wonder I have created.
Lilac Wood Yarn


Sweetp said...

Love the purple. So with procion you don't need heat..hmm that sounds good

neak said...

Loveeeeeeeeeeeee the purple!