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A Kaleidoscopic Dyeing Day

March 14, 2012

The Guild’s Acid Dyeing day was attended by 8 enthusiastic members and visitors, which made for a wondrous outburst of creativity in the room.

We started the day learning about the methods for creating accurate dye colours from a limited range of 2% stock solutions (acid red, claret, acid blue, turquoise, acid yellow, dandelion, intense black and chestnut Kemtex acid dyes). As well as the importance of adding acid and Glaubers salts in the right ratios.  This involved much mathematics and concentration, but fortunately we had reference texts in the form of a wonderful selection of sample cards provided by Wendy and Susan.

We each chose a colour to attempt and some serious chemistry ensued:

We were using microwaves to set the dye into the yarn, and a motley collection of dyeing vessels were assembled including the above, jamjars, pyrex bowls and plastic roasting bags

Dyeing using the microwave is extremely quick, as the liquid quickly reaches boiling point and is then allowed to simmer for 5-10 minutes. The roasting bags were great, and allowed several items to be cooked at once, but it is worth noting that the yarn in them did end up smelling a little scorched, so perhaps more liquid to protect it would be worthwhile.

Soon, we were all ensconced in our own little dyeing worlds and the world began to resemble a colourful chemistry lab.

We attempted various methods of applying the dye to both yarn and fibre.

Some beautiful results were obtained by dyeing previously  wound cakes of mohair yarn – dye solution was either injected into the cakes using a syringe to produce random patches of colour, or diluted so that half of the cake could be stood in the solution, while leaving the top half bare for future dyeing. This gave a two-tone effect to the cake, and a lovely variegated effect to the finished skein;

After a delicious lunch, we were set free to dye our own fibres and yarns, and I am afraid to say that careful considered mixing of colours went out of the window (at least for me!). We painted, pipetted, mixed and massaged our fibre, then wrapped it in clingfilm and blasted it, never quite knowing what would result, but it always seemed to be a happy surprise!

Our final stash of lovely things:

A fabulously inspiring day – I can’t wait for the next one …

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