My First Dyeing class was a runaway success. The techniques and materials were simple enough that the students had no problems following along. Everyone’s wool turned out bright and beautiful, the results were phenomenal. I hope that every class is as enthusiastic, cheerful, and helpful. The questions being asked proved that the patrons were there to learn. I am so excited for the rest of the Classes. Dyeing Wool Handout contains the methods that I taught to dye fibers easily using materials found in a kitchen. There are a million other ways to dye fiber, so do not take this as gospel.
I have to confess, this wool is so much softer than it looks. All of these pieces of wool are dyed using either Liquid or gel food dyes as well as a combination of Alum and Cream of Tartar as a mordant. I do enjoy how the colors have turned out, they are not as brilliant as I would have liked. I did find out with the last batch of yellow I did, if I pre-mordant the fiber and cook up the dye bath in the mordant and use about half a container of the color then the colors come out very rich, the bottom two golden yellows. The yellow right above was first dyed in Hibiscus Tea (a variety that was quite sharp though I usually prefer hibiscus tea). This particular blend of tea is a very sharp red and initially turned the fiber a beautiful Burgundy…alas all of that color just ran right out of the fiber when it was taken from the bath. The result was a very faintly beige color, you know that shade of eggshell where you are staring at it and saying “it isn’t quite white but it isn’t really anything else either.” So I overdyed by plopping this fiber into a pot that I thought was exhausted (it wasn’t) and turned out to be very pretty and rinsed clear.
I am really happy with my experimentations. If I get particularly brave this afternoon I might try to fill out cards with what information I have for them and start a dye dairy. At the absolute minimum I intend to finish dyeing my fibers using the Wilton Cake Dye kit I obtained and Alum Mordant so that I have a wide Pallette of colors to play with. If sometime this summer a yen takes my fancy I might look into obtaining some Jacquard dyes to get more colors. I do hope to spend some time this summer and fall experimenting with plant materials and the dyes that they can create, how exciting!
I have ordered a Brother Drum Carder for myself for Christmas. (mom is getting a set of stacking boxes with clear doors for her yarn stash, shhhh don’t tell her). The Drum carder I have ordered will have 90 tpi, suitable for carding finer wools without damaging them yet coarse enough that I can card almost anything else I desire. In an effort to get into the carding spirit I also ordered a pound of undyed wool. I have played with Kool-Aid Dye in the past, causing the co-president of my guild to think I only like primary pinks and blues, but I have been hearing a lot about dying wool with Wilton and Rit Dyes. Due to this desire to experiment, I am doing some research about other peoples experiments with this dye.
The first mentioned Rit dye and a few ‘glugs’ of vinegar. Her experiment went well!
Love Knitting has an article about Wilton Food Dyes; Start by soaking the fiber in a vinegar bath, 1/4 cup to about 4 oz of fiber, for at least 20 minutes. Pour the fiber, vinegar, another 1/4 cup of vinegar into a pot. Add the color a tiny bit at a time and agitate to disperse the dye. Start on low and heat up your pot of fiber, when it is at a simmer just before boiling take it off of the stove and let it cool down. Rinse with lukewarm water until the water runs clear, then hang up to dry. There are also some tips about painting yarn, I particularly find it interesting that sponges (along with a vinegar dye mix) can be used to paint the yarn/fiber to create gradients and variations. Heat is still needed to set the fiber, so the author steamed the yarn for about 40 minutes in a steamer basket. Though they mentioned that it is possible to microwave for 1-2 minute bursts for about 5 minutes to set the yarn.
Both the RIT Dye site and Wilton Food Site have information on how to use their dyes for coloring different materials. I cannot wait to begin experimentation!