Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fun with Acid Dyes

It is already 4 weeks ago today that I went to Summer School.
I had fun with Acid Dyes, given by Amanda Hannaford.
For me this was all very new, having only used naturel dyes myself. (apart from dyeing the warp for this scarf with Procion at my Guild last Autumn)

We started by mixing the 8 different colours to a percentage of 2% (2% dye to 100ml water) as we were going to dye silk as well as wool. The silk needs a stronger proportion dye sollution to dyeing wool. For silk it was ready to use at 2% but for wool it needed to be diluted to 1%.
We made up 2 liter canisters of dye stock for each colour. (2 reds, blues and yellows each + black and chestnut)
Next we had to pick a colour and with a partner we had to dye a very small skein of wool yarn in different percentages (0,5ml, 2ml & 4ml per gram of yarn) so that we would get 3 different shades of a colour and finally adding 1ml of black to 4ml of the chosen colour.
We ended up with a shade card each:We were asked to bring a digital photo with us for colour inspiration.
I brought several but in the end I used this photo:We than used Photoplus to pick colours to work from, these were the colours that I came up with:Left side were 5 colours I picked first and on the right I picked another 6. In the end I used a mix out of the 11 colours.
The different colours were poured over the skein (mine are lustrous shiny silk). The top skein I did first, using 5 colours and the next skein I used 6 colours.
The colours in the picture are not what they are. I will try and take another photo tomorrow in better lighting. It has been a dull day here today.
I also dyed some cotton/silk yarn to see how the colour would take as Acid Dyes is not supposed to dye cotton. I was pleasantly surprised with the result.
We also dyed some silk hankies and caps, pouring chosen colours on the silk. These are mine:Another method of dyeing was dyeing balls of yarn and dipping one side in a colour and next turn it over and dye the other side with a different colour.
I dyed several balls like this with these results:
The above skeins were bourette silk but I also dyed some more of the lustrous shiny silk. I was not happy with my result at all after making a skein of my dyed ball, there was to much white left in the yarn. May be the ball was to big and tightly made so that the colour could not penetrate enough to the center. So I decided to over-dye the skein with another colour and I was happy with the end result, the white had gone and in its place was a lovely lavender colour blending in with the colours in the skein.Another way was injecting the dye into a ball. This way you can use several colours at random and the end result is a surprise. I first thought that here too was to much white left but in the end I left the skein as it was.I now have lots of yarns to start weaving with. The lustrous silk (bottom row in photo) can be either warp or weft, also the cotton/silk yarn (top right in photo). But the bourette silk (top left in photo) can only be used as weft as it is a very weak yarn.We also did some Shibori dyeing, I dyed 2 scarves using the pole wrapping method:This was great fun to do, I'll have to go and look for some drainpipe to do some more pole wrapping at home.

One thing we learned was to save every bit of dye that has not been used up (even the rinse water that would still show colour). We had several pots for the different colours and it was surprising what you could do with this slosh dye. As you do not know what percentage of what colour is in the slosh you will not be able to repeat the colour, but hey it did give some lovely surprises. And it also makes sure you use up all the dye rather than throwing it away down the drain.

I enjoyed the Acid Dyeing and will try some more at home. I think I feel happy about using them next to the natural dyeing that I have been doing.


  1. One reason that people seem to enjoy natural dyeing is the intrigue of it all. Once you know what you are doing with acid dyes, there is none of this intrigue. But what is much easier with acid dyes is the ease with which you can repeat results. I think there is plenty of room for both!

  2. Peg,
    That is what has made me aware of this, doing the acid dyeing with Amanda.
    Using every bit of dye to the end makes it go a long way and makes it environmental friendly in a way too (not flushing any dye away).
    But using the exhausts make it unrepeatable but gives back the intriguing bit of dyeing.

  3. You did some really cool things with colors in your dyeing! I really like the skeins you came up with.

    Thanks for writing about the different methods you used, especially for dyeing balls. I've been curious about that. I recently purchased some dye, and am thinking about using it. So it's nice to see what other people are up to!!


  4. Sue, thanks for your comments.
    Don't forget to fix the first colour before turning the ball over to dye the second colour.