Saturday, March 31, 2012

It Wasn't Hard at All *

In my last post, I showed you my freshly spun Bamboo/Merino/Bison/Cashmere yarn and talked about my dissatisfaction with the natural color.

I considered the color selection in Dharma Trading Co.'s acid dye, decided on Alpine Blue, and placed my order. I dug an old enameled stock pot out of the back of the cupboard, bought a cheap package of wooden spoons at Big Lots, and found my bottle of white vinegar.

A smarter woman would have done some experimenting first.  A more cautious woman might have practiced the process with some inexpensive commercial yarn, or wound off a small sample of the handspun for a color test.

I took time to read the instructions on Dharma's website, but then I threw caution to the wind.  I put my skein in a bowl of warm water to soak. I filled my stock pot and put it on the stove. I weighed out some dye powder, dissolved it in some hot water, and added it to my stock pot. I turned on the heat, added my wet yarn amd gave it a good stir. When the temp was just to simmering, I added a splash of vinegar, then let the pot simmer for 30 minutes. Then I pulled out the yarn and gave it a good wash and several rinses.
The Patron Saint of Reckless Women was smiling on me.

Want to see the results?
 turned into this..
I love the new color.  As expected, the bamboo did not absorb the dye the same way the wool, bison and cashmere did. It shines through as a paler shade of blue. The softness, sheen and drape I loved in the original yarn is still every bit as seductive.

Lessons learned:
  1.  I used far too much dye. The manufacturer recommended 1/4 oz for each pound of fiber. Since my skein was 2 oz, I figured I needed just under 1 gram of dye.  My digital kitchen scale really isn't accurate at such small quantities, so I can't be sure exactly how much I used. What I didn't account for is the bamboo.  It was 50% of my fiber blend. As a cellulose fiber, it does not take acid dye well, so I was really only trying to dye 1 oz of protein fiber. There was still lots of color left in my pot, so I know I did not exhaust the dye bath. Instead of pouring it down the sink, I poured it into mason jars.  I just can't bear to waste it (even though it's only about 50 cents worth of dye). I'm thinking I'll dig around the stash for some white wool to throw in.  Does anyone have any experience with re-heating a dye bath?  Am I asking for trouble here?
  2.  If I'm going to do much more dying, I need to get some rubber gloves.  The yarn needed lots of rinsing to get rid of excess dye - I'm guessing the bamboo was shedding the dye that was just on the surface and not bonded to the fiber. All that time in warm tinted water turned my hands a bit blue and softened my fingernails.
  3.  Fortune favors the brave. I'm so pleased with the results of this adventure.  I'm glad I didn't wimp out and decide to live with the original color.
* I almost changed the title of this post.  Instead, I'll just say to both my brothers, "Get your mind out of the gutter."


  1. Nice - yeah, it's kinda hard when you're a beginner like me to figure out how much dye. But nice job on the yarn!

  2. Oh my, this color is just heavenly. I will be interested to see how your second batch with the dye turns out.