First Attempt at Home Dyeing

Part of the birthday present I bought myself was a drop spindle and some fiber to spin. I decided on undyed fiber because it was less expensive and because it would give me an excuse to try dyeing it myself.
This is easier than it sounds - lots of people dye protein (like wool and other natural fibers) yarn and fiber with Kool-Aid or similar powdered drink mixes or with food-coloring or icing coloring (same thing, different form). These are all types of acid dyes, which can also be purchased as powders for more "professional" use, but Kool-Aid and food-coloring have the benefit of being cheap and easy to find on a whim and a bit safer to use in your kitchen. Acid is one of the keys here - Kool-Aid has acid in it already in the form of citric acid. Other options require you to add some acid to the mix - often vinegar.
So, after doing a lot of reading, especially of this article in Knitty by my friend, Samurai Knitter, I decided to embark on the project. I bought a pack of 4 liquid food-coloring drop bottles, I already had a jug of white vinegar, and I rummaged around for some suitable containers for mixing the dye.
Last night I split off about a third of my 4 oz of Norwegian top into narrow pieces, wound them loosely, and soaked them in a vinegar and water bath until this afternoon.

Then I laid them out on a towel to dry a bit and then laid them out on plastic wrap.

I mixed up some colors in hot water and a bit of vinegar.

I decided I wanted to "paint" my dye on so I'd have multiple colors in the same strand. I tried using a sponge brush to see if that would provide a bit more control but no go, it just grabbed at the fiber and sucked up dye liquid.
So, I wound up pouring. The little paper cups were a lot easier to do this with than my little glass jars and they held up just fine. At first I kept careful note of my mixes. Near the end, I just started playing though.

It wasn't as messy as it could have been and in the future I don't think I'll pre-draft my fiber quite so much - all those narrow bits were a bit annoying to work with, but I wanted a smaller scale test batch before I go whole hog.

I did the pouring in stages over several hours - dinner was ready about mid way through and my back wanted a break (and is still making it's displeasure known). I doubt that should make a terrible amount of difference.

Everything is all wrapped up, put into the glass baking dish, covered with a bit of foil and stuck into the oven for an hour. Hopefully it won't need much more steaming than that.

I'm really looking forward to the result and getting to find out how concentrated the solutions need to be to achieve certain hues and how my mixes turned out and if my plastic wrap survived the ordeal, etc., etc.

I was good for the early part and wore gloves, but they started to irritate me so I took them off. Yay, blue fingers and it isn't from Raynaud's!

Oreo avoided the area while I was working, so I didn't get a chance to see how the dye would take on *his* protein fibers.
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Julie said...

I've had fingers like that, more than once. Looks like fun! Can't wait to see what happens next.

Alwen said...

The last couple of Easters I have used the leftover dye solutions to play around with.

This year I took the heatable hot beverage bags out of some of my husband's MREs (Meals Ready to Eat from his National Guard drills) and heated the dye and fiber in my little potpourri warmer.

I'm not a serious dyer, but I always have fun playing with it.