UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

October 24, 2009

Fiber Dyeing, accomplished!

Filed under: dye, fiber — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:47 am

Yesterday I made this:

I started with this: And ended up with this:
From Fiber Club
May 2009
From fiber dye

I changed it from “citrus” to what I think of as “almost fall foliage”. The only disappointing thing about this is that it is very green and I am not so fond of green. This was done with a packet of cherry Kool-Aid and food coloring dripper bottles. Cooked in a crock pot for about 25-30 minutes on high, at that point the dye bath was clear.

[As usual, click the pictures to go to the bigger version in the Picasa album.]

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April 20, 2008

roving eye dye

Filed under: dye, fiber — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:13 pm

My dye project from last week, which was supposed to be tri-color: gray, blue-green, blue-purple has not turned out so closely to what I envisioned. However since I like pastels and the variegation on this is pleasant and there is no felting, I am rather pleased. This is BFL from Spunky Eclectic, but if I am going to dye this amount of fiber regularly, I need a bulk source.

dyed fiber

April 17, 2008

dye job blown

Filed under: dye — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 2:47 pm

I have half of one of the lumps of CMF BFL spun and plied. I have taken pictures, but that will likely be another post. I have several finished yarns to show off and inserting pictures is cumbersome.

However, lest you think this is yet another contentless post, I wanted to talk about my dye experiment. I am pretty sure I am not doing this right. Yesterday I bought plastic tubs for dyeing. Today I folded up some roving and nestled it into the bin. Then I added acidified water. I added dye from the dye liquid (I added near boiling water to the dye pot the previous time, as is recommended by the manufacturer.) using a plastic fork. I did this with all three colors (using clean forks) in a tri-color flag arrangement (so each color is in its own band and they do not repeat.) However, the color was not effectively taken up by the wool. The dye bath remained colored (though there was very little bleeding.) I added more wool. The colors got a little muddled when I was trying to squish in the new wool which was not pre-wetted. Finally after waiting about 10 minutes, I poured off the dye bath into a second tub and looked at the wool. The reason the dye bath was not clear is because one of the colors did not take. I added some fresh water and poured the dye bath back over it. That way if the bath was too acidic, it might get better. I put it out in the sun because sunlight helps dye uptake which seems counter-intuitive since sunlight bleaches finished things.

I will take pictures of that. Here is hoping I did not felt the roving as much this time. I am going to be happy with pastel colored roving I made but I would like for the wool to be nice to work with, unlike the previous experiment’s results.

Still. I did something new after mostly failing the first time. Next time I will try for a single color, because I can add more acid or some base if the color is not uptaking correctly, but when one is and the others are not, the choice becomes difficult.

February 14, 2008

blue skies

Filed under: dye, spin — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:44 pm

The self-dyed roving that seemed hideously felted is spinning tolerably. If I had paid for this roving, I would have complained because it is very irritating and requires a lot of extra preparation work. However, it does spin. I have one bobbin of [1] singles and a second bobbin on the flyer. I do not know that I want to ply these. They are probably over-spun for use as singles though.

The summary being that dye mistakes are not catastrophic, many times things can still be salvaged.

February 13, 2008

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies…

Filed under: dye, fiber — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:57 am

Dyeing roving did not work too well. I got an unsatisfactory amount of felting and did not get the color separation I wanted.

First, let me say that this is entirely my fault. I did not do any research before starting the roving dye process (though I did read the instructions before dyeing yarn with the new-to-me Jacquard dyes.)

The color I got is really nice. It looks like a blue sky with a few puffy white clouds. However, since I used Spruce green and Periwinkle blue, I was expecting something else.

(This is where the post title came from, just in case you were wondering where the goofy titles arise.)

Procedure-wise. I measured out some roving (13 arm-lengths is a pound, so I used about 3-ish). I braided it so it would not “float apart”. I soaked this in luke-warm acidulated water in a 3-gallon zip-top bag (with the zipper torn off because those bags are poorly manufactured).

I added a quarter-cup of boiling water to each dye pot (the 1/2 ounce jars) to make a liquid dye. This is recommended by the manufacturer. Then I put a straw-full of dye liquid on one side of the roving braid in the bag full of acid-water. I used another straw to add another dye on the other side. There was very little uptake of dye.

Eventually I drained out most of the dye water from the bag and put the bag of wet roving in the steaming pot.

There are several points at which I believe I erred.

  1. braiding the roving. This is a stupid idea. If the roving is going to come apart, dead nylon hose would have been a better choice to hold it together.
  2. I did not use soap. Soap increases dye uptake and reduces white spots.
  3. I smooshed the fiber around way too much.
  4. not using a drinking straw for the second color of dye (turns out that “straw” was blocked up)
  5. I used too much citric acid powder

I did pull the drying roving into vertical strips and it will be spinnable, though not effortless like some of the professionally dyed rovings have been. Of course even the professionally dyed rovings have had chewy sections.

My current plan, after having read all sorts of advice from other people’s blogs and websites, is to work outside, tape newspapers down, add a plastic tarp, spread plastic wrap into a long length for each roving. Additionally I plan to pre-dissolve the acid powder in hot water and to pre-soak the roving in cold water (which has had the acid and some soap mixed in). Then I will drain the soaking water off, lay the roving out along the plastic wrap, and paint the dyes on. This painted roving will sit out in the sun. When it is dry or mostly dry, I will carefully wrap it in plastic wrap and steam it. When that is cool, I will rinse it and rinse it again.

January 8, 2008

The newness is so shiny.

Filed under: dye, hat, knit — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 8:03 pm

There might be a rule somewhere that says: When in doubt, do not ask one’s spouse about one’s hobbies. This is both true and false.

There was an ad on craigslist for a used Elizabeth I Ashford wheel. The price seemed pretty decent considering all the extras. I asked my husband if he thought I should inquire. That answer was fairly telling in its incomprehension. It is not that I need another wheel. I do not even need a double-drive wheel. I do not generally like Ashfords. I do not know what the difference is between Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II, though generally the implication was that there were improvements made to the design.

Tonight I showed off the tropical sunrise hat and asked if I should knit the ribbing in white or if I should dye it, hopefully to match. The answer I got was really surprising. “Of course you should dye it to match. Did you want to work on that before or after we start supper?”

I have to say that this dye job went a lot easier for several reasons, but the biggest ones are the use of a jar and a small amount of fiber. The jar is stable on its own and does not require that third hand to avoid spillage. It is also much easier to get a solid color on 5 yards of worsted-weight yarn than it is on 150 yards of sock-weight. Tonight I used food coloring (from the dropper vials that every kitchen seems to come with, but which only cost $2 otherwise) because I was about to be making food and then there were no concerns about aerosolizing non-foodsafe dye powder.

Boogie’s post today on tablet weaving really struck me as interesting.  Both the post itself and the activity. I really want to weave now. Yes, right now, hands are itching to start on it, and now in the sense of it being a change in attitude.

I have hat pictures and dye pictures and a photo of the “Endpaper Mitts” I did not work on today.

December 23, 2007

dyeing to be blue and .. pink?

Filed under: dye, instructions — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 1:06 pm

Playing a bit of catch-up here.

I was talking to Boogie, who heard me bemoaning my lack of cookware that could be sacrificed to dyeing and she suggested I put my yarn in zip-top bags for boiling. Then the pot could still be used for food after.

The reality is that the acid dyes are not terribly non-food safe, but it is enough that I would not want to make soup in one that had been a vat for dye. About half my dye usage seems to be food coloring anyway, which definitely is not a problem.

I put a large kettle on the stove and filled with hot tap water. Since it was not for human consumption, I did not worry about the amount of lead or impurities which might be in the water and it dramatically decreases the stove-heating time.

My experience with the bags was not wholly what I expected. Let me detail what I did.

There is a concern about breathing in powdered substances and causing lung damage. One should definitely use a well-ventilated area and preferably wear a dust mask. It is my opinion that everywhere selling things which require safety precautions should be forced by law to carry those safety precautions as well. Power tools need hearing protection, but there is not usually a display of earplugs immediately adjacent or even a sign indicating where those might be located. There were no dust masks available at the store selling the dye.

I put the stove hood on high, pulled my shirt over my nose and mouth, and added a fractional-spoonful of citric acid powder. (The package says 1 Tablespoon per pound of fiber. I was dyeing 70g of fiber in two batches. There are about 500g per pound. So I was looking for about a fourteenth of a Tablespoon in each bag. I probably used between a third and a quarter of a “teaspoon”.) Then I added water to each bag and stood them in a (used but washed) take-out food container. I used a plastic tube (which had been one of those WTF packaging elements in a pair of shoes) and tapped it into the dye jar. I stuck the tube into one prepared bag and poured water through the tube to rinse the dye into the solution. Then I added another cup of hot tap water. To the other bag I added 30 drops of red food coloring, 10 yellow, 1 blue and a cup of hot tap water.

I washed my superwash yarn in warm water with a drop of soap added. Then I squeezed out some of the water and put a hank in each bag. (Rinsing the soap is not required and may even help the dye bond, according to the instructions. But I assumed it was like washing the kitchen floor, if the soap is diluted in a gallon of water, no rinsing is needed, if it is used full strength, a sticky residue would remain and rinsing is necessary.) The yarn which contacted the dye solution sucked up all the color. But the yarn near the top of the bag did not get exposed to the solution and did not get any color. The solution in both cases had immediately gone clear. I added another cup of hot tap water to the bag and a few more drops of food coloring immediately in the white area of the red bag. I sealed it and swished it and put it in the pot of simmering water. I did the same with the blue, though the straw was awkward while holding the jar, the bag, and the water for rinsing all at once. Luckily when I spilled, it was the exhausted water in the bag before the fresh dye was added. I was able to mop this up with a cleaning rag (usually used for dusting). I sealed and swished and put the bag into the simmering water.

Both bags were simmered (heat on) for 30 minutes and left to cool (heat off) for several hours. The bags float in the water, which is was unexpected, but only because I had not thought it through.

Upon removal from the water, each bag was individually handled. I turned on the tap, opened the bag and let fresh water flow in. This would guarantee minimal skin exposure to acid and dye. Then the bag was completely drained and fresh water added for the first real rinse. After that draining, the yarn was removed and rinsed in the sink while the bag was rinsed out. Some baking soda was shaken on, but no foaming or bubbles occurred which indicates the acid level was minimal. The yarn was removed and excess water was squished out. (Dyeing superwash yarn first is recommended because of the handling tolerance.) This was set on a clean but sacrificial t-shirt for drying. 35g of wool+nylon should dry overnight if it was sufficiently wrung out.

The resulting yarn is a monochromatic variegated yarn. It is exceptionally well done if that was the desired result. Since I had intended a solid color, I found myself somewhat dismayed. However that dismay was overshadowed by my thrill of the creation of a very useful kind of yarn. I call it serendipitous.dyed yarn

In future, I plan to use much more water when trying for a solid color. I hope that if the dye is suspended in a larger volume, the yarn will have a better chance to absorb the color evenly. That will require a new container because having a gallon of acidic dye in a slider-style zip-top bag strikes me as foolish. I also think that the bags would be ideal for boiling handpainted yarns. There is a suggestion that one can soak the yarn in the acidic water, drop on dye, then let the resulting colored fiber dry (so the colors do not bleed) then steam to heat set. If the handpainted fiber was only mostly dry it could be placed in a zip-top bag and simmered for 30-40 minutes. I plan to attempt that next time.

Overall my experience was very positive, even if unexpected things occurred. Since undyed yarn can be so much less expensive, I would highly recommend attempting this. I liked the Jacquard acid dye because of its color intensity. I really liked the citric acid powder in lieu of vinegar for the convenience. But the food coloring really does work quite well and there are no safety concerns about reusing the cookware. I did not like the Kool-Aid idea, even though that contains the citric acid and is obviously food safe. But the drink packets are quite expensive compared to 25 years ago and it seems wasteful of money.

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