Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dyeing Yarn

I spent the day dyeing yarn. Actually, I spent the past week brooding about it, getting opinions from friends, internet sources and Prochem technical help line, all of which were very helpful in my quest. I am still contemplating another mitered sweater, but I needed yarn with long repeats, and I don't want to spend a fortune on Noro I broke down and ordered acid dyes from Prochem, as they were having a sale on dye kits, where you can get a small sample of lots of colors for dyeing wool, silk, etc. ( ) And so of course I needed some yarn....and got a pound of some lovely merino from . Now my next puzzle is how to steam 1,200 yards of painted yarn. I wondered, Can I bake it instead?( I planned to wrap painted skeins in plastic wrap and either steam somehow or bake at 200deg F.)....Gary suggested Reynolds Oven Roasting Bags, and JoVE suggested oven temps around 200. I called Prochem and they were quite specific that steaming was the best way to go. I spent some time Monday visiting cooking equipment shops to find a good stainless steel set of veggie steamers, and found an excellent one that is made to sit on top of a fry pan, and the standard leaved one. After I visited Kohl's where huge suitcases were 50%off ( I need one to schlepp quilts to lecture! I loved borrowing Elizabeth's big red one, but I need my own!), they had a gorgeous 11qt stockpot on sale for $20, so I bought that. Now I was leaning towards trying the wrap and steam method -(thanks Ray! for the method explanation!)- lay out a long strip of plastic wrap, place the acid pre-soaked hank on it, squirt dye into it, fold over the plastic wrap toward the center, then roll/fold loosely into a flat sort of packet; then steam for 30 minutes, covered. With the old veggie steamer I had stashed in the closet ( unused since I discovered microwave steamed veggies!), I had a 3 tier arrangement to fit the pot, so I could do a lot of yarn at once... none of the packets would touch the water, and I could listen very carefully to make sure the water won't boil all away, then lifted steamer rack out to cool naturally (or just turn off the pan, remove the lid and leave it all sit ). As I had 1200 yards to dye ( and then 500yds of more assorted fibers which needed dyeing!), I was running a little production line - so I could do 3 runs of steaming, and the apparatus worked like a charm! I overdyed 1200 yards of merino which didn't dye very vibrantly with Procion in the oven which I did last wednesday,and this time used Citric Acid instead of vinegar--no smell! It was delightful...and so very gratifying! Unlike dyeing with cellulosics and Procion, the washout was a snap--all the dye exhausts into the wool. I added a bit of hair conditioner to smooth the wool, and it came out so soft and vivid! I can't wait until it is dry so I can roll it into balls and knit it up. This was too much fun! The alpaca I dyed is as vivid and wonderful as the wools...yummy!

1 comment:

Mrs. Mel said...

Um, you can also get great results from steaming in the microwave for one minute. No special pans, just wrap the dyed wool while wet in plastic wrap and put it in a container and hit the button.
You can tell it is done when the excess water is clear. I used vinegar and it was crisper color than the citric acid and cheaper too.