Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dyeing wool and silk

I got my Babylock embellisher in 2007, and gradually started accumulating roving in various colors from etsy and other online sources. I also, somehow, started collecting undyed wool roving, as well as silk cocoons, carrier rods, hankies, a little throwsters waste and even some wool curly locks.
I love to dye cotton fabric and yarns with procion dyes, but acid dyes always scared me, just the name, “acid” (of course that just means vinegar so it really isn’t scary). After a long break from my embellisher I am back at it and looking longingly at all the luscious hand dyed roving and silk hankies and other fibers out there, wondering if I too could dye wool and silk.
I also regularly read her Majesty Margo’s blog, and when she had this post about dyeing a bunch of different fibers in a turkey roaster, that was it for me.
I don’t have a turkey roaster so I used a large crock pot. For my birthday, my fabulous sister in law Anita (and equally fabulous brother Dave) got me a starter set of Greener shades dyes from the Woolery. They also gave me two bags of wool nepps and two skeins of pencil roving
So this is a picture of my first try.
I gathered wool roving, curly locks, pencil roving (right), cocoons and the wool nepps (left), which were gathered into nylon netting(top left). Yes, acid dyes work on nylon, yay!
The crock pot had a little water and vinegar in it. I soaked the fibers in warm water with a little synthrapol, laid them in the crock pot (two layers), sprinkled a little dye powder on each layer, and cooked it on low a few hours until the water was clear. Let it all cool, rinsed the fibers and laid them out to dry, all just like Margo said.
I was going for a mixture of blue and purple, and I am thrilled with what I got. The colors of these dyes are intense, which I love, and next time I will try and get a little more variation in the colors. I cannot wait to experiment with other color combinations and see what happens.
To top it all off, my amazing friend Gail mailed me some Jacquard acid dyes for my birthday. So I turned 50 and get to dye to my hearts content!

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