Learning to dye

I’ve been meaning to learn to dye for a long time. I dipped my toes (metaphorically not physically) in dyeing silk scarves, but didn’t go much further. The long Canadian winter (go home Mother Nature – you’re drunk) has left me craving colour. So I watched eleventy billion YouTube videos and went for it.

First up, I got sample skeins from a yarn supplier. These were mini skeins, just big enough to experiment with. There are many many more, but I wanted to try a few out first. I spent the day making labels for each skein and covering them in tape, hoping they’d survive the process so I’d know which was which. Then I soaked them for a few hours in citric acid and water.

several undyed mini skeins of yarn in a restaurant pan waiting to be dyed.
Some of the skeins all nice and clean – ready to dye

Then I put in a 1(ish) percent depth of shade yellow. Which really wasn’t yellow – more of an orange.

same skeins now with an orange dye added. It was supposed to be yellow. oh well.
Not sure who’s idea this is of yellow, but it looks orange to me….
Same skeins with green dye added now.
Kicking it up with green. Hide the orange? Yes please!
and the same skeins with purple dye added
Rescuing it all with purple. Because really, you can’t go wrong with purple!

What was interesting was how the different materials took the dye. The one that didn’t take it at all? Bamboo. No surprise since these are acid dyes and it’s not a protein fibre. I had twisted the MCN into a skein so it would have a resist (getting all fancy like), and you can see the white spots on it as a result.

Skeins hanging on a set of rings to dry
Since I don’t have any scarves to wear, might as well make use of the ring thing.

Today, it was time to put on my big girl pants and work on some fibre. Still not brave enough to dye the good stuff in the resource centre, so starting with some Polwarth roving that definitely could use some love. It’s hideously thin, looks like it went through a roller when they made it, and it just, well, sucked. I’ll never order from that mill again. #lessonlearned

Yeah so then this happened. It looked great in the pan, but I don’t think I let it sit long enough for the dye to strike. Took about 10 minutes of rinsing to stop the blue/green from running. It’s probably going to dye pretty felted, but since it was shit roving to start with, I’m not all that concerned. I can always toss it on the drum carder.

Fibre in a restaurant pan dyed purple and green
Now this is colour!

The last experiment of the day (still with more of the shit roving), is what’s becoming a fave colourway. I just think of it as Fall. It’s currently still sitting in the dyebath soaking up the remainder of what’s left. Even if it ends up shit – can it be shittier than shit? – I like just looking at it.

Roving in the pan dyed with fall colours - orange, green, yellow

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