This is how I dye…

Good morning! I want to share with you a process that I very much enjoy…dyeing.

This is the set of dyes my dear mother gave me for my birthday- Jacquard acid dyes for protein fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, etc…). Fourteen unique .5 ounce pots of possibility, little warriors of color ready to march into battle. And then to think of the colors I could make if I mixed them together! And it only takes tiny, tiny bit of dye to make my yarn come to life. Here is a quick walk through of the process I follow each time I want to dye a hank of yarn:

First I take one tiny jar of dye and write its name and dye number on a sterilized plastic jar with a water tight lid. In my case, a peanut butter jar. I have chosen Jet Black for this particular jar. I get out my scale that weighs in ounces- a retired postal scale from my mother-in-law- and weigh out .25 ounces (half of the jar of powdered dye). I place the powder into my sterilized jar and add 2 cups simmering water to the jar. I give it a nice stir with a plastic spoon and let it cool. This dye pot is ready to use! (caution: never use your dyeing utensils for eating…yuck. And a respirator and safety goggles are recommended when handling the powdered dye.)

Here comes the fun part! I place a plastic trash bag on the table and put a 20 inch or so piece of plastic wrap down. On that, a place a skein of pre-soaked and wrung out yarn. Next, I take my plastic spoons and dip into the dye pots I want (only with clean spoons so as to not transfer colors between the pots), and put the spoonfuls into a small plastic tub. To this tiny bit of dye I add a little bit (less than 1/4 cup) of water with a touch of vinegar added. Are you still following me?

I then pour this little dye mix onto my yarn and squish it around until all the yarn is saturated with the dye. I wipe excess water/dye solution from the edges of the plastic wrap and then fold the whole thing up tight. I place the yarn packet on top of a brick or wire basket in a pot of simmering water (make sure the water isn’t boiling up and agitating the yarn packet, as this causes felting). Let this simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the packet puffs up, turning a few times during the process. Remove the packet (be careful, it’s hot!) and let rest until it has cooled to room temperature. Finally, remove the yarn and rinse with lukewarm water to remove excess dye (not allowing the water to fall directly on the yarn). Add a drop of dish soap and rinse until the water runs clear. Roll up in a towel and press out excess water. Hang and separate the strands to speed drying. Enjoy!

(please feel free to send any questions my way…)

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