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Friday, May 22, 2009

More About Dyeing

Since there have been so many questions about the dyeing process that I used last weekend, I decided it is probably best to respond this way rather than just through the comments. First of all THANK YOU for all the really nice comments - it's so fun to connect this way and I hope many of you will be inspired to try dyeing too. Dyeing can be intimidating, I know all the chemicals that are listed for dyeing just don't appeal to me. I do have them all but every time I'd think about measuring and mixing Urea and soda ash, frankly it put me off. For silk I've been using Colorhue dyes for years - quick, clean and easy with luscious colors - just do a Google search and you'll find it.

A few notes about last weekend's dyeing: I had purchased some acid dye from a local shop owner who carries supplies for rug hooking - but that's not all, she carries gorgeous wool yardage and tons of other things too including ALJO dye and I purchased a ton of packages a while ago but hadn't used them until now. The shop owner told me just to use vinegar and that certainly appealed to me. You still must cover all surfaces, wear a mask and gloves as the dye molecules can "float" and can be quite dangerous if breathed or settle on surfaces to be used later for food preparation. The normal way she described would be to put water in a large pot to be used for nothing else (mine is enamel), add a splash of vinegar (her words thrilled me!) mix the dye thoroughly with a little water and add it to the pot before adding your soaked wool and let it simmer until all the dye has been exhausted (meaning there are no dye molecules left in the water). DO NOT STIR just push down gently from time to time. Turn the heat off and let it sit until it cools. Rinse in the same temp water and place outside until it is dry.

Turkey roaster or crockpot method I used: I put a few inches of water in the bottom of the turkey roaster (maybe 2 or 3)and added some vinegar - I just added a big spash - perhaps 1/2 cup - (how much will depend on the hardness of the water in your area so I suggest you do a small experiment before dyeing large amounts). Beforehand I had soaked my wool and other fiber/fabric in cool water with 1/2 cap of Synthropol which is a wetting agent and it also removes any suface coating. I added handfuls of the wool to the water and when the first layer was filled, I sprinkled on some dye powder and gently pushed it down before adding another layer and more dye until the pot was full (be very careful doing this as a little dye goes a long way). Another caution, some dye colors do better than others this respect, some don't dissolve well just being sprinkled on and you'll end up with uneven little specs (I found out the hard way) so you'll really need to experiment to find out which ones work well and which ones must be dissolved well in a little water first. I placed the roaster outside on the deck (fumes) and let it cook for about an hour before unplugging and letting it cool. You must push it down VERY GENTLY from time to time. If you've got it right, the water will be clear (all the dye has been exhausted). Once it is cool, remove small and gently rinse small batches - be careful to rinse using the same temp water as the wool and DO NOT agitate or it will become felted. I like to add a little hair conditioner to the last rinse water which makes the wool so soft (and smells good) - place outside to dry. You can hang it on a clothes rack or lay it on a net sweater dryer. This is truly a fun and relaxing way to dye - the worst parts are setting up and cleaning up but the results are so rewarding. If yo have any questions or don't understand, please feel free to speak up! Enjoy and let's see your results!


  1. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial. (found you from the yahoo group) I was fascinated by your turkey roaster dyeing! I linked this to the Fiber Arts Friday Blog Carnival at

    Your work is amazing, and I hope that you will share your posts with us next Friday at the Blog Carnival!

  2. Oh thank you soooo mch for posting details!! Youa re so right about dyeing being intimidating!! i want to get a group of fiber artists together with several pots and do a big dyeing day. that way we all share the work and get lots of colors- biggest bang for our time spent!!!
    Certainly after seeing all of your lucisouly dyed fibers, I am inspired even more!!
    i think that your turkey roaster idea is pure genius and then outside on the porch for the process!!!!!
    Happy Weekend!!

  3. Margo,
    Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have been gathering the needed equipment and now will search for these dyes, they sound so much simpler that others I have researched.
    I have been wanting to do some roving to use with my embellisher.
    Love your first book(embellishing) and am looking forward to the next one.
    Robin in NC

  4. Margo--_Thank you for providing so much information. If you know some sources for the acid dye that would be great. The one Kath Daiswan used was supposed to not be toxic....but I may have mis-heard.


    Thanks everyone for your compliments - see the link above for the dye I used. The owner's name is Mary Klotz (really nice person) just look on her site under acid dyes - hope this helps!