Monday, November 9, 2020

Doing the work for more accurate dyeing

I have been dyeing a long time, and I have been mixing dyes to get different colors for a long time, and I have a book where I record using scraps or yarn or fabric what I get from those mixes, but I never did double check what color the straight dye was after it arrived from the manufacture, which was frankly very dumb. And as a former scientist, I should have been better about establishing a baseline.

So, in the last few weeks, I've been winding up these 1 oz skeins of 8/2 cotton yarn, 140 turns on a 1.5 yard niddly noddy, but I'm not going into the math! (Using the big 8/2 cones from R&M yarns, and if you're looking for good deals on factory closeout cones of yarn, I'd suggest getting on her mailing list) and dyeing each one with a 1/2 teaspoon of the dye, unless it's a jar with an asterisk, in which case I use a full teaspoon.

I use Procion dyes, mostly from Dharma Trading, though I have a few older ones from ProChem.

Here's the method:

Skein yarn to be around 1 oz, 140 turns, tie it up in 8 places.

Prepare skeins for dyeing (in groups of 6-10) fill a bucket with hot water *as hot as you can get* from tap, add a tablespoon or so of synthropol and a tablespoon of soda ash, let sit for at least 15 minutes. Rinse (and sometimes I'd do this in the washing machine to save time and also get out more water, since sometimes I would not go directly to dyeing but instead dry the skeins to dye later.) If you are running skeins in the washing machine, put them in lingerie bags, ideally alone, but in groups of two is fine, because this will keep them from tangling with each other.

Put your rinsed, and rung out, skeins into a solution of 1 cup soda ash per gallon water. They should sit for at least 30 minutes. Once this is done, you can start prepping the dyes. I did 6-8 dyes per session, from all over the color wheel so I wouldn't get confused about which skein was which. When you deal with soda ash, wear gloves and eye protection

To prepare dyes, wear a dust mask, gloves, and googles:

Mix 1 Tablespoon of urea per 1 cup of warm water, this will help your procion dye dissolve.

In a separate measuring cup, add your 1/2 tsp dye. Then add a bit of the urea water, and mix the dye with it to make a paste. Then slowly add 1/4 cup of the urea water. I would pour each one of these into a small container and rinse the measuring cups before starting again. I had enough measuring spoons that I didn't really need to reuse them during the session, thank you thrift shops!

Squeeze the soda ash mixture out of the yarn. Wearing googles and gloves! I mixed up one batch of about a gallon and a half, and used it throughout the process for both the yarn washing and this soaking step.

Pour the dye into a bowl, then squish and squeeze one yarn skein through it. The put it in a sandwich bag to batch for 4-6 hours. You can of course batch overnight, but I was impatient for results. I would wash out and reuse the sandwich bags, so I only used about 8 over the whole process. Then there is a lot of rinsing, then back into the lingerie bags for another trip through the washer before they dried out on the drying rack. After they were dry, I wound them into balls. Clearly the most time consuming part of the process was winding skeins and then winding those into balls!

Not all these were dyed as part of this process

A page of my notebook showing the results

Now I just need some ideas on how to use all that yarn! I already have some ideas on new colors to try dyeing.