Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Low water immersion dyeing of recycled cotton yarn

I felt so adventurous the last few days even though it was a holiday. We celebrated with love and peace and presents on the first day of winter so my 24th and 25th of December were left wide open for relaxing, playing and crafting. And my honey was able to catch up on his "honey do" list. One thing on that list was making me a drop spindle, but we'll get to that a bit later. First lets look at my low water immersion (lwi) dyeing of yarn. I've done this process with clothing before but not with yarn. I've been thinking lately that I'd really like a daytime way of dyeing, a way that's not very messy, has little set up and break down, something I can do with the kids around, so I figured that lwi was the way to go.

First I dismantled and skeined a sweater, and shoved each skein into a glass jar:

This is 200 yards short of a whole sweater, I just couldn't for the life of me find one more jar in the house.

Then I poured my fiber reactive dye (since I'm working with plant fiber (cotton)) right on top of the dry yarn. I used a funnel at first then quickly ditched it since it really was serving no purpose:

I used only two colors: marine violet and medium blue procion dyes. You most certainly can put more then one color in the same jar, it would look super groovy, but I was on a simple experimental mission, so I used one color per skein/jar. I filled the jars with dye, made sure I could see no white, shook it up if I needed to, then I poured off the excess dye so that I had room to pour in some soda ash solution. Soda ash is a fiber reactive dye fixer, it keeps the dye colorfast for years. You cannot expect to get good results without it. So I mixed some up (directions are on the label) and poured as much as I could into the jars, put the caps on and shook it gently a few times. Then I let them sit and cure for a couple hours while I did other stuff.

Then when I felt they has cured enough, I filled up one basin of my kitchen sink with cool water, opened up the jars, poured out the excess dye/soda ash solution into the empty sink, and dunked the yarn into the cool water and squeezed/rung them out well. I then plopped them into a mesh laundry bag and washed them in the machine on cool and dried them on cool.

They were a bit tangled when I took them out of the bag, but I'm not afraid of a few knots, so I took them out, untangled them, then threw them back into the dryer out of the bag to finish drying.

They turned out so beautiful!


pickayarn said...

wow! Awesome tips and tutorial! Thank you for this:)

Ruth said...

Wow! I only dye wool because my hands don't like knitting with cotton, but I bet I could use this method with acid dyes.

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