Tuesday, 16 July 2013

You know whats great about dyeing? There are so many ways you can do it. I have heard about solar dyeing (in a black plasctic bag or tin foil in the sun), in a roasting dish in the oven, slow cookers, vegie steamers, stock pots, bathtubs and even a dishwasher. There truly is a process for everyone!

So this leads to my process. I have used it a few times (usually when a HUGE skein needs to be done, or lots of smaller ones in the same dyelot.).

My first attempt at this was with 10x 50g skeins of organic merino, bought from SkeiNZ.

Our hot water cylinder is on wetback to our fireplace, so every winter (from May until about September), we turn off the cylinder because the fireplace runs constantly and it boils the hot water water everyday. Our hot taps spurt out water at about 85degC on average.

So I used:
White Vinegar
(Very) Hot tap water
Queen food colouring
Nappy Bucket
Microwave rice cooker for heat setting

We have a spare 20L nappy bucket that never got used, so I put 2 cups of white vinegar in, then half filled it with our HOT tap water. Then I put in the skeins to do a 24-hour vinegar soak.

The next morning, I made up my dyestock, using red and blue Queen food colouring. Knowing that purple is one of the harder colours to get right, but liking red and blue tonal variegations throughout purple, I used a half bottle of each red and blue (25mL each) with 5mL of black (to make it slightly darker and richer). I also added a cup of vinegar to the mix and topped it up with some hot water (dye pot made about a 750mL).

I drained the excess water from the overnight soak, then half filled it with hot water and my dye pot (I added the dye mix before the yarn, to allow a more even distribution of colour, rather than pouring it on top and missing the bottom skeins).

I placed the (still wet) skeins into the dye bath and (using a wooden spoon), gently stirred the yarn through. Well stirred isn't really the right word. I kind of just worked the yarn to get the dye everywhere.

Then I left it. The water was steaming and it stayed in the bucket for 48 hours. Each 12 hours, I would gently disturb the yarn to ensure the dye was everywhere. Please be careful if you do this. The last thing you want is twisted or felted skeins!!.

The red took first (which I was happy with and expected), then the blue kind of 'filled in the gaps'.

Pic taken slightly before all the dye was exhausted.
You can see that the red took first. The blue is coming in second place.

Once the dye bath had exhausted, I pulled out 2 skeins, let the excess water drain off (but no squeezing), put them in the microwave rice cooker and nuked them on high for 2 mins to heat set them. Again, please be careful if you use this method, I am not responsible if something melts or goes wrong. If you want to try, but are cautious, I would recommend 30 second bursts.

I carefully pulled them out and repeated 4 times with the other 8 skeins. I left them to cool, and once I could comfortably hold them, I rinsed them under cold water (to remove excess dye and vinegar), gently squeezed the water out, then hung them to dry. Just before I did though, I swung them around really hard and fast (like they would be in a spin cycle in a washing machine) to seperate the strands and remove as much water as possible.

Once hung, they only took a few hours to dry in direct sun and wind from the harbour. There was no fading, but I would not recommened drying them like this if they were going to take any longer than that. I kept them over the clothes airer inside overnight to make sure I didn't miss any damp patches when checking.

The next morning (after 4 days from the start), I retwisted them up, ready to use. (The first photo is in natural light, but the second photo, taken with a flash is a more accurate representation of the final colourway. Purple is always hard to catch on camera)


I used the same process for this cone of wool that I scored from The Sallies. I used green 30mL, blue 20mL, black 10mL.

Undyed, after the first overnight soak of hot water and vinegar.

Black 10mL, Blue 20mL, Green 30mL + 1 cup of white vinegar = dye bath

Steam visible from the hot tap water. If your tap water doesn't get as hot,
try adding 1 : 2 of boiled water : hot tap water

After 48 hours, you can see the dye has exhausted, leaving clear water.
(it appears with a slight tinge because of the coloured yarn)


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