This file is a collection of various messages having the common theme of
dyeing wool fleece and felt, that I have collected from my reading of the
various internet fiber lists, although they are primarily from the feltmaker's
list. I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with
separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes
extraneous information was removed. For instance, most of the message IDs
were removed to save space and remove clutter. The comments made in these
messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy
of the information given by the individual authors. Please respect the time
and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status
of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from
these messages, please give credit to the orignator(s).
Pat Spark, Manager of the Feltmaker's List.
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|Dyeing Fibers, Excerpts from the Knitter's List||Susan Druding's Rainbow Dyeing with Leveling Acid Dyes|
|Addresses of dye sources.|
|Pat Williams' instructions for dyeing wool with acid dyes.||Pat Williams' instructions for painting wool with cold water (fiber reactive) dyes.|
|Instructions for dyeing roving from Gleason's Fine Woolens' Page. Dyeing fleece from the same site.|
|PRO Chemical has several pages on dyeing wool on their site. Here is the index.||Instructions from ProChemical's Site on painting dyes on wool. (Cold water MX dyes.) Or dyeing solid colors with fiber reactive dyes on wool.|
|Acid wool dye chart from Dana Sheppard.||The Dyer's List https://list.emich.edu/mailman/listinfo/dyerslist has been set up to facilitate discussion of technical questions, problems and information related to immersion dyeing and to the surface application of synthetic dyes, textile pigments and related chemicals to fabric and fiber. The list owner/manager is Pat Williams.|
|HOW CAN WE REDUCE HEALTH HAZARDS IN DYEING?||SHOULD FLEECE BE CARDED FIRST AND THEN DYED, OR DYED FIRST AND THEN CARDED?|
|HOW DO YOU DYE PIECES OF FELT?||WOULD NATURAL DYES WORK?|
|HOW DO YOU RAINBOW DYE FLEECE OR ROVING WITH OTHER TYPES OF WOOL DYES (ACID DYES)?||HOW CAN YOU USE THE MICROWAVE OVEN FOR DYEING WOOL?|
|HOW DO YOU DYE FLEECE OR FELT WITH KOOL-AID?||ARE THERE CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES TO DYEING WITH KOOLAID?|
|CAN YOU PAINT DYES ONTO FELT WITHOUT THEM RUNNING ALL OVER THE PLACE?||HOW CAN YOU USE THE CROCK POT FOR DYEING WOOL?|
|DYEING WOOL WITH FIBER REACTIVE DYES|
HOW CAN WE REDUCE HEALTH HAZARDS IN DYEING?
* Janet Stollnitz, Nov. 12, 1996
It would be safer (healthier) if you put your dye powders into solution and poured some dye on the fleece rather than sprinkling dye powders. Please wear a mask when handling dye powders. Most of the hardware store dust masks are acceptable for use with the dye powders. Fumes require a mask with the appropriate cartridges.
* Ruth Walker, Jan. 17, 1997.
I would like to suggest that instead of using acetic acid for adjusting the pH in acid dyes that you use citric acid crystals. They are vastly safer to store than the concentrated acid, don't fume when you open the container, and are easier to use because they are dry. For example, if you were to require 1Tbsp of glacial acetic acid, you would use 1Tbsp of citric acid crystals. I used this for several years with Lanaset dyes, and was very happy with the results. I bought it from ProChem; don't know where else it's available (it was a very reasonable price). You can use it to clean the scale from your drip coffee pot, too!
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SHOULD FLEECE BE CARDED FIRST AND THEN DYED, OR DYED FIRST AND THEN CARDED?
* Susan Bowen, May 12, 1997
When I attended a workshop on natural dyeing with Rita Buchanan, she recommended (and so we did) dyeing in the fleece, then carding the wool for color consistancy. Any variations were considered an asset to "the look" of hand-dyed.
* Pat Spark, May 12, 1997
In my experience, it is usually easier to dye the fleece and then card it. You run less of a chance of felting the fiber if it hasn't been carded first. Also, carding fiber after dyeing allows you the opportunity of making a more even blend, since most dyeing will have at least some streaking. You often end up having to recard the batts anyway after dyeing, so why go through the whole thing twice?
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HOW DO YOU DYE PIECES OF FELT? WOULD
NATURAL DYES WORK?
* Merike Saarniit, May 20, 1996
YES! - There are actually a number of ways to do this. First, make sure hat is well wetted. For natural dyeing, I'd do a one-pot method to avoid having to boil it more than necessary (mordant and dye in same pot). For even less boiling, and if you like a nice turquoisey blue, Saxon Blue indigo solution is great - fibers suck it right up at a low simmer for 30 minutes. If you're really worried about the "boiled wool" situation, try rainbow dyeing in the microwave. I''ve done a lot of this using Country Classic dyes. Put your felt hat over a microwave-proof container sitting inside another container and paint your hat (use syringes or food basters). Take the "running down" into consideration as a design element. Microwave on high for 4 minutes, turn, 4 more minutes, rinse thoroughly and you're done! (Yes I carry natural and chemical dyes, contact me at email@example.com.)
* Gina Parosa, May 22, 1996.
I have done a lot of dyeing of felted items (though I am sure not as much as others here) and find this works just dandy, esp. if you want to dye with sharp edges, that is, crayola-type-coloring" with dyes. I love random geometric dyeing, and it works very well on felt! Saturate your felt with vinegared water to the correct pH for the type of dye you're using (4-4.5 for Lanaset, for example). Dab on your stock solution with a brush (I usually thicken with Keltex first so the colors don't run). Rub them in well so the fibers are covered. Place on steam rack over boiling water and steam vigorously for 20 min. or so. Voila! This will not usually soak all the way through but it works well for surface coloring. Have fun!
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HOW DO YOU DYE FLEECE OR FELT WITH
* Susan L. Krueger, Nov. 6, 1996. (Dyeing on top of stove.)
Here's what I found out at the NY State Fair from a sheep raiser & it's worked for me. I just simmered it in a pot on the stove till all the color was absorbed.
2 c. water (temp 150-200 degrees F.)
1oz. wool fleece
1 pack o' Kool-Aid
Of course, you could always increase the amount of Kool-Aid or try a couple
of flavors on different areas for a Rainbow effect. It smells great, too!
(I don't think you need vinegar because of the citric acid.)
* Joi, Nov. 10, 1996 (Dyeing in conventional oven.)
As promised, this is the set of Kool Aid dyeing instructions I received from Kathy Zimmerman, a former Highland Hall Waldorf parent who organized our Sheep to Shawl in the past. I haven't personally tried it. Kathy says: Kool Aid is not cheap for dyeing.
Color Test: Take 1/2 tsp of Kool Aid powder, pinch of fiber & hot tap water; soak, rinse & inspect color.
Dyeing: Use 1 packet Kool-Aid to dye 1/2 to 3/4 oz. fiber. Don't use
presweetened. Use stainless steel, ceramic or glass pot but not aluminum.
Avoid rapid temp changes unless you mean it to felt! Soak wool
in solution of 1 gallon hot tap water w/1/2 cup white vinegar for 10 to 15
minutes. Dissolve Kool Aid powder in hot water, the same temp as the soaking
water. (Enough water to easily cover the fiber.) Transfer wool to Kool Aid
water. Place the container w/Kool Aid mix & wool into the oven &
turn to 150 degrees F. Do not preheat. Heat 20 to 30 min. The water becomes
clear as the color is soaked up (except for the Berry Blue which gives
a blue color, in which case the water becomes milky white). Rinse the wool
in hot tap water w/o wringing. Not rinsing completely the first time helps
prevent it from becoming matted. Lay wool on a towel to dry.
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* Joan Kozak, Nov. 10, 1996 (Rainbow dyeing on top of stove.)
Hello! Sorry about the delay. It took me a couple days to track down the author.The new exciting info is that you can dye dirty fleece simply by adding soap ( I use dish detergent) to the dye bath! Isn't that amazing?! Simple . Radical. Elegant. Yes, it works fine. Though, there is a very slight increase in wasted dye (koolaid take up is usually virtually complete.) And rinsing does seem to take longer than when you're simply washing. Again, koolaid on clean wool almost needs no rinsing. You can easily get by w/just 1. How much? Whatever you would use just to wash that amt. I use maybe (I never measure)1 T. (?)(more or less depending on strength) to 8 oz. dirty fleece. Of course you know that 1/3-1/2 of the wgt. is lost in washing so in figuring dye and chemical amt.s you have to adjust accordingly. As far as I can ascertain, credit for this idea goes to Nancy Morey fr/ her bk. RAINBOW DYEING. She also follows a definite pattern in laying out the dye. You'll have to check it out. Our group had a work session w/this after a couple members took a workshop w/ Jan Ringer in Duluth. So, I hope I'm not violating the proprietary info rule. It's quite dispersed in our region now.
First let me say that I'm far fr/an expert w/ synthetic dyes but, over the last yr. and a 1/2 I've had spectacular results w/ rainbow dyeing w/ koolaid. rainbow simply means dyeing many colors simultaneously.When the concept 1st surfaced (10 yrs. ago?) in Interweave Press. I tried it W/ natural dyes by sprinkling on diff. mordants. But it all kind of muddied .Anyway, I'm sure there's lots of variations.
Basic proportion; 2 c. white vinegar to 1lb. of clean wool to 1T.acid dye (koolaid). (canner size ) I use an 11 qt. pot. Which dyes about 4 oz. clean (or 7-8oz., dirty)fleece.Pour in 1/2c. vinegar.And a 3 sec.(or so) squirt of detergent if using dirty wool. Then add water up to 3" fr/ the BOTTOM.Add fleece. Push down to moisten. The water and wool level should be the same,no water above. Then just dump in 8-12 pk.s of koolaid.Not in the same place, of course. I start w/8 and add more if a color just disappears. Do not be afraid of weird combinations. Actually, kids' dyebaths turn out the best cuz they're fearless.("gasp" Not the green on the red!). Yes, it works. The red is far stronger, so the green just tones it down.Oh. Lots of flavors are red. I stick w/ cherry. It's the strongest.Once you have your colors in, don't stir (just poke if they need moistening). Now, slowly (over 45 min.) bring the temp. up to just below simmer. Hold it there another 45 min. Let cool. Drain into a mesh bag and rinse.
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ARE THERE CHEAPER ALTERNATIVES TO DYEING WITH
* Sue Pufpaff, Nov. 12, 1996
As I promised, I am posting my suggests for using food coloring as a dye stuff.
Using Food Coloring as a Fiber Dye
I'm always looking for a cheaper or easier way of doing something, which is how I started using food coloring to dye fibers. To me, Kool-aid was hard to control, and too expensive to use on a regular basis. I also questioned why I needed all that other stuff in the ingredients list of the Kool-aid. But I did want something that I could use to dye small amounts of fiber in a variety of colors that was not too toxic to work with around children. Mine always want to help when it comes to the dyeing parts. The thought then came, what is the active ingredient in Kool-aid that I am using?---food dyes. What is another way to purchase food dye easily and for less cost?----those little bottles of liquid food coloring I have always used to dye my Easter eggs with. The wonderful thing about them is they come in just blue, yellow and red. I now have at my disposal the three primary colors in an easy to see form and the bottles are even designed to dispense a drop at a time. Now here comes the great news, food coloring dyes don't need much heat to set.
The process I use requires:
--old glass quart jars, (glass gallon pickle jars can also be used)
--four color box of food coloring
--wet wool or other animal fiber
Fill the glass jars 1/2 to 2/3 full of warm water. Add 1/4 cup distilled
vinegar to each quart jar. Now take the bottle of liquid food coloring
and add drops of color in the jars of water until the water is very dark
or just experiment . I usually figure at least 20 drops of color to a jar.
The drops do not have to be all the same color and there is no limit
to the combinations possible. If you want to get very scientific with
the process, the number of drops of each color can be recorded and then it
could even be repeatable, I think, thou I have never tried. After the color
is in the jars, add wet wool to the jars. The fiber can either be loose uncarded
fibers or small skeins of yarn. The first wool in will be the darkest and
the shading will decrease until the dye is exhausted. If the wool is wet
with a soap solution and the soap in not rinsed out before adding it to the
dye, the colors take even better. The process of setting the dye or getting
darker colors can be assisted by putting the jars in a hot water bath canner
for about 30 minutes. The water in the canner needs to only be level with
the top of the water in the jars. If the jars are covered, there is a chance
the color from one jar will migrate to another jar. Another way to darken
the color is to set the jars in the sun for a day and watch the color exhaust
in the jar. Neither of these hot treatments is really needed. I actually
just set the jars on the table overnight and had dyed fiber when I pulled
the wool out the next morning. I have some fibers which were dyed this way
as surface designed on my felts which are now going on 5 and 6 years old
with no major color fading. I have also used paste cake dyes. The problem
I found with them was the same one encountered with Kool-aid. The dyes are
a mix of different colors and the results were less predictable. The paste
dyes were also harder to get dissolved in the water in the jars. The advantage
of using cake dyes is they are more concentrated than regular food colors
and the amount of wool it was possible to dye with one container of cake
dye was well over a pound before the pot was exhausted. It is fairly
easy to have a special place to put a case of quart jars to reserve them
for dye use only which can also address the issue of dye fibers out of the
same containers in which food is prepared. This way of dyeing is also fun
to do with children, because the color combinations are so unlimited. It
even teaches color theory when they aren't even thinking about it.
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HOW DO YOU RAINBOW DYE FLEECE OR ROVING
WITH OTHER TYPES OF WOOL DYES (ACID DYES)?
* Pat Spark, Nov. 11, 1996 (Rainbow dyeing on top of stove.)
Joan's post reminded me of some of the dyebaths I did about 15 years ago. A member of our guild, Sabine Miner, had told us about her dyeing method with unscoured Romney fleece. She had gotten a stainless steel electric roaster at a garage sale. (Later I used just my stainless steel dye pot.) She said to put about 2 inches of water in the pan and add some (? exact amount ?) dilute acetic acid (vinegar). Then stuff in some fleece locks, cram them in. Sprinkle on some dye powder. Cram in some more fleece, add a little more acid/water, cram in some more fleece and then sprinkle with dye again. Keep layering dye, fleece, small amounts of acid/water until the pot has only about 4 inches room. She then covered the roaster, plugged it into the outlet on her porch and let it simmer for an hour or so. Let it cool and rinse. When I did it, I was using the dye facility at the university, so I put it where it was well ventilated and let it simmer for the hour. It worked quite well. I would push down the simmering fiber every now and then. Also, do not let the small amount of water boil away. Use a mask when pushing the fiber down, because the chemicals from the dyepot will be concentrated in the steam.
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* DeeDee Woodbury, May 23, 1997
Deb Menz does some wonderful painting on roving. Her techniques are described in Michelle Whipplinger's Color Trends, both the journal and the book. Mailing addresss: Color Trends; 5129 Ballard Ave. N.W.; Seattle, WA 98107; tel:206 789-1065 fax: 206 783-9676
* Candy Hoeschen, May 27 1997
Another excellent article by Deb Menz that may be more available than Color Trends is from Knitter's Magazine, Winter 1994, pg 76. It demonstrates the painting technique on yarn instead of roving.
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CAN YOU PAINT DYES ONTO FELT WITHOUT THEM RUNNING
ALL OVER THE PLACE?
* Chris Smith March 5, 1997
I don't know if this will help, but I'm told you can thicken dyes to a paste with Shelley's cellulose wall paper paste. This allows you to be much more accurate with the colour placement and the cellulose washes out later in water. I'm told you mix up the cellulose to a paste consistency first; then add the dye. Haven't tried it myself. Hope it helps, happy experimenting.
* Pat Spark, May 21, 1997
Years and years ago, I did some experiments with sodium alginate thickener and Lanaset dyes (possibly called Sabreset now). I added acid into the dye solution and then added this to the thickener. The consistency was about like yogurt. The samples were then steamed to set them. It worked fine for rough areas. Because the felt was very coarse and hairy, I didn't achieve really clean lines.
In issue #9 (available for US$3 from me) of the North American Felters' Network, Molly Fowler gives a recipe and description of her method for painting on thickened Procion dye.
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HOW DO YOU DYE WOOL WITH FIBER REACTIVE DYES?
*Layne Goldsmith, August 10, 1999. For those of you who asked for my recipe for printing and direct application of Fiber Reactive Dyes on wool -- NO steaming required:
1 1/2 Cups Urea
3t. Sodium Bisulfite
4-8t. sodium alginate (depending on thickness desired)
Warm water to make 1 Qt.
Put dry chemicals in a jar and add
warm water and vinegar. Cover and shake vigorously to mix. Label and store
To this print paste, add your fiber reactive dyes. I use them pre-mixed in stock solution for safety, accuracy and economy. Since the stocks are liquid solutions, you may want to make your print paste thicker to compensate for added liquid, especially when using darker colors (more dye).
Apply dye paste to wool felt, either fully hardened or pre-felt. It also works on fleeces, yarns, wool fabric, whatever.
Cover printed or painted wool completely with plastic and seal tightly. Leave for 12-24 hours at room temperature (minimum 70 degrees F.) Wet goods will run if they touch each other.
Unwrap and wash thoroughly starting with cold to remove all chemicals and then ending with hot, soapy. Rinse well.
Spin to extract excess water, dry, block or press as per your design.
I recommend PRO Chemical and Dye, Inc. (telephone # for orders is 1-800-2-BUY-DYE) as an excellent source for all of the chemicals and dyes you will need. If you have technical questions, Vicki Jensen is their specialist.
HOW CAN YOU USE THE MICROWAVE OVEN FOR
* Jenny Hopper, May 10, 1996
SAFETY - Opinions differ about using your "Food" microwave for dyeing because of the possibility of the migration of dye molecules (possibly carcinogenic) into the microwave lining during dyeing and the future possibility of these later being released into food and being ingested. If possible use another microwave ONLY FOR DYEING - here, we can often buy second hand microwaves very cheaply which are ideal for dyeing. A basic microwave is satisfactory, you can do without a turntable or variable power. An alternative is to use several layers of plastic to contain whatever is being dyed so there is no leakage, or covered dishes (kept only for dyeing and never used for food) and put them into plastic bags (microwave safe) also and then to thoroughly clean the microwave after using it for dyeing. The responsibility is yours.
I dye mostly wool tops and silk for felting (and spinning) and use Landscape Dyes because they are just so easy - no extra chemicals etc. Gaywool Dyes are also successful as are any other acid milling dyes. Both Landscape and Gaywool dyes are available in US too (there are advertisements for them in SpinOff issues).
The method is simple - the amount dyed at one time depends on how controlled
you want your colours -
One Colour - how ever much you can fit into a covered container (I use an oven safe glass casserole dish - what are these known as in US?)
More Than One Colour - however much you can wrap up in a long plastic covered "Sausage" about 3" in diameter, which is then coiled on the glass turntable in the microwave. Mostly I dye 300gms or less (454gms = 1lb) at a time or prepare several repeats of exactly the same amounts and dyes etc. and "cook" them one after another. One friend has an old larger microwave and claims to dye over 2lbs at a time!
This seems a very lengthy description - but I hope you find it fun to do!!!!
*Karen Zuchowski, April 2, 1998.
There's still another way to do koolaid dying. Use a glass container- a qt. jar or a glass bowl will due. Dissolve the powder in some warm water, add about 2 tablespoonfuls of vinegar and fill about half way with more warm water. I soak about 1 oz or so of wool in(other) warm water with a little vinegar in it (1T or so) sqeeze it out, and put in the jar. Then fill the jar or bowl til the wool is covered with water- gently stir. Place in the microwave and heat on high for about 8 minutes. I then take it out and let it stand until room temp. Then rinse excess out. This usually exhausts all the color out of the water. The colors aren't bad but are a little limited in scope (lots of reds in koolaid!!)
*Jane Altobelli, 26 Mar 2001. What I do is wet out my fibre (either fleece or roving) and then put some water with vinegar in a pyrex dish (one that comes with a lid). The liquid should just cover the fibre. Add the fibre and then dribble your dye solution (I make up a 2% solution, but it is up to you) in, perhaps, a pie wedge for each colour. It is best to use no more than three colours. Don't put in too much dye because the colours will be too dark. This is a "learn by experience" type of thing. I sometimes overlap the colours, sometimes not. Think about how the colours will look overlapped and rethink putting some that just don't do much for each other on either side of another colour that works with both of them. Every time you do this you will end up with something different. Good Luck.
*Kathy Hays asks, 26 Mar 2001. Jane, I understand everything you are doing, as this is how I do it for a pot on top of the stove. But what about microwaving at this point. How long do you think? 2-3 minutes. And is your lid on the pyrex dish or covered with plastic?
*Jane Altobelli answers, 26 Mar 2001. I do about 10 minutes on High (my microwave is old and only about 600 watts). You have to get the water hot enough to be at boiling point. It really depends upon how much fibre and how much water. Stop it halfway, take it out and see if there is any dye left in the water. If there is, put it back. Put either the lid or Saran over the top.
HOW CAN YOU USE THE CROCK POT FOR DYEING WOOL?
* Jan Kelly, April 23, 1999
I bought the largest crock pot I could find, although I am sure you could do it in a smaller one. They told me to start with 4 oz wool, and I have never tried more. I use Jacquard Acid dyes.
Here's the recipe:
3 qts tepid water---1 Tablespoon salt---1/4 cup vinegar 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dye dissolved in a little hot water. All this goes in the pot and I stir it up with a wooden spoon. Soak your wool in tepid water before adding it to the pot. Push the wool down with your wooden spoon. Turn the pot on low and leave it for half a day. I usually leave mine 4 to 5 hours. Turn off the pot and let it cool. My pot liner comes out so it is easy to take it to the tub and then I drain it in one of those little plastic baskets they sell at Wal Mart. Rinse and spin in washer. Lay it out on a towel and let it dry. I use the 1/8 teaspoon dye for softer color and the 1/4 teaspoon for a more vivid color.
I like to card several colors together, like lavender, pink and white for a tweed effect for socks. Really comes out pretty.
I was also told that you could put all the ingredients in the pot, except the dye and then quarter off the pot visually and put a different color in each section for a rainbow effect. I haven't tried this as yet. I have over dyed gray wool.
The gals that gave me this information are Yvonne Lundholm of Coos Bay, OR and Audrey Sinner, of Saint Helens, OR.
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Page updated: May2, 2008