weak acid dyes - use citric acid or vinegar as the acid agent
ziplocks - because you can dye multiple colours or shades of smaller amounts of fibre or wool in one pot, saving time and energy.
I need to make another pair of guy mittens before Christmas. I was spinning up some fleece, I think from the stuff I picked up from the Ontario Wool Growers this summer. It is white. I really didn't want to knit white mittens, especially for one of my guys. I didn't think it would work for any of them and be a bit boring for me. So I decided to dye up the yarn today. I had 69 g spun, into a worsted weight woollen - gosh I love the long draw - I added another 38 g of a grey woollenish yarn. My idea was that I would do the cuffs in a dark colour and work my way to the finger tips in lighter shades. I didn't want a ton of shading to make it totally ombre, but just colour blocks. Since I still have a whole whack of that 2% solution of Navy Blue dye, that is what I used. Because I was dyeing 3 skeins, 3 different colours, I also decided to dye in ziplock baggies so I could do it all in one pot.
|Step 1 - weigh and soak fibre, then do the math|
First thing is to weigh the skeins and write the numbers down! You need a work sheet for this and it is a pain when you forget to record the original skein weights.
I soaked with just a couple of drops of dawn dish liquid to help the water absorb quickly.
The math is easy stuff. You want to figure out the amounts of water, acid and salt. Water is important for ziplock bag dyeing, to make sure you have enough to cover the fibre.
|write quantities of additions on bags|
The numbers are 40 x water, 20% salt and 33% vinegar. Write this down on your worksheet and then take a sharpie type marker - indelible and write it down on the ziplock baggies.. As long as it is a decent quality plastic bag, the brand name doesn't matter. These are just the most economical around here when there isn't a sale, so I keep them in the fibre room..
These notes make it easier to set up each individual bag. Note the vinegar has x2 because you split the amount and add half at the beginning and the rest half way through the process.
|Bags of fibre, salt and vinegar heating up|
You need to use something to keep the bags from touching the bottom of the pot. This can be a stick across the top with the bags pegged to it, or I just use a dedicated vegetable steamer thingy. Use a thermometer. Add a couple of inches of water, set the bags in. The water level may rise dramatically, depending on the quantity of water in your bags. Turn the burner on and let the temperature rise slowly. This is wool, so somewhere around 180° F, carefully open up the bag and add the vinegar. In a perfect world, you would remove the skein, but with larger amounts, I just spurt the vinegar down the side of the bag and squish well to mix. Once the temperature gets to just below boiling - let it hold there for about an hour. Squish, mix, wiggle the bags once in a while to keep the fibre/yarn dyeing evenly.
Check the bags. The dye should exhaust, leaving the water clear. The dye could exhaust earlier - splitting the vinegar helps the colours absorb evenly, but you still need the full hour of cooking time to make sure processing is completely done, making the yarn as colourfast as possible.
Once the hour is done, turn off the stove. You should let the bags cool naturally. However - if your fibre isn't really delicate, and you are in a hurry, you can transfer the bags to a sink or basin. If you open them carefully - use gloves please, the water and steam are hot, you can dump out a bit of the water, helping them cool down a bit more quickly.
Once they are cool enough, rinse them in water to make sure there is no unattached dye and hang or lay flat to dry.
This is my dye pot after the bags of wool came out. Nothing leaked into the water - the bags held tight. I only used a tiny bit more water than this for the whole process.
Three shades of blue yarn. I used a 2% dye stock at dos (depth of shade) .5, 1 and 2.
I love the denim blues I got. Soooo pretty, but I won't tell my guys that the colours are pretty unless I want the mittens for myself.