Monday, February 21, 2011

Another Way to Dye

Sometimes when I'm dying I want a more controlled look. Sprinkling in the acid dyes can give rich deep colors, but the powder dye spreads out however it wants. One way that I change this is to create liquid dyes and pour them into recycled squirt bottles.

To mix the dyes I add around 2 tsp powder dye to a disposable cup. (When using dyes wear a mask, gloves and only keep dying equipment for dying.) Fill half full with water. Stir until the powder is completely dissolved.
Using a funnel funnel the dye liquid into your squirt bottle. I then rinse the cup with a bit more water and add this to the squirt bottle as well, as not to waste even a smidgen. Wipe clean, and label. The thing with using powder dyes is that a little goes a long way. Measurements aren't super important because it has less to do with water to dye ratio as it does the intensity of the color and the saturation that the fiber can hold. The fiber will only absorb so much dye, and once that's accomplished, if you add more dye you'll just be wasting it. To find the right amounts, it takes trial and error. But to give you an idea, for 4 oz of roving, I use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 a squirt bottle with 2 tsp powder dye liquid mixture.
To dye the roving, I use disposable metal tins found inexpensively at the Dollar Store. I re-use them over and over.  Fill the pan with approximately 2 inches of water.
I snake the roving (there's 4 oz here) back and forth in the pan vertically. Heat until just under a simmer. When the water starts to steam glug in a good amount of vinegar. Again measurements depend on the color your using. Red takes longer to penetrate, so when using red dyes you'll need more vinegar, in fact, is any color doesn't seem to be absorbing, simply add more vinegar. After a while you'll get the hang of what each color calls for, and you can't really make a mistake.
Now the fun part. I squirt the liquid dye back and forth in horizontally, in the opposite direction as the yarn is snaked. This is where I can really be creative. If I don't want the colors to mix as much, I wait longer in-between each application. I also start with light colors first, let them absorb and apply the next. Occasionally I have to glug in extra vinegar if the colors don't seem to be taking, the acid in the vinegar is what adheres the dye. You can also use citric acid, but I find that vinegar is cheaper.
Once I have all my colors on I let the dye pot steam on low for a half hour. Move the roving aside, if your water is clear, or close to, all the dye has absorbed. If not, let it go another half hour. If it hasn't absorbed in an hours time, chances are, the fiber is saturated and won't take up anymore dye. Allow to cool to room temperature, then drain gently and rinse in warm water. Avoid over handling as not to felt the fiber. Dry on a rack. This technique gives a nice heather-ed look that looks beautiful when spun.  

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