Sometimes simplicity is best. After my last batch of dyeing, I’ve been trying to work through various colours to create a ‘palette’ to be able to spin from. The nice thing about dyeing top for spinning rather than dyeing a skein of wool directly is that this still leaves a huge number of possibilities for colour blending and mixing at different stages of the process.
All of the top in this post was done by pre-soaking the top in soda ash for a few hours and then using Procion MX dyes. I then just leave the dyed top wrapped as well as I can in the cling film to sit around for 24 hours before I start the rinsing process.
I’ve been trying one or two new tactics for rinsing as I find it often a tedious part of the dyeing process. Normally what I would do is hold the top under running water until there was no more colour run but I always feel this wastes a huge amount of water and ends up being really time consuming. What I tried instead was a method I saw suggested by another dyer on Ravelry is using ‘buckets’. First, I dump the top in a bucket (or in my case appropriated washing up bowl) of ice water which is supposed to quench any further chemical reactions between the dye and fibre and helps get the soda ash out. This is probably most useful if you’re dyeing things where any unbound dye migrating to another area of the fabric would be problematic. After that, it’s soaking in hot water, first with Synthrapol, then just water for a while, and repeating until all the dye is out. How many washes you do is largely dependent on how crucial possible colour contamination is to you. In my case, if I was dyeing something for hand embroidery I’d be much more cautious then if I was dyeing something for knitting.
Although I don’t carefully weigh things out when I’m dyeing as I’m rarely doing something intended to be precision dyeing or repeatable, with enough practice I’ve become good at estimating how much dye something will hold so I don’t usually get too much run off. This is always easier with acid dyes as they just tend to bind a little better but I’m getting the hang of being more efficient with Procion MX dyes. I do err on the side of using slightly overconcentrated dye solutions as I’m after very saturated colours but I’ve found a happy medium of usually getting good, solid results without too much waste.
I am doing some colour variation along the 25 g lengths of top as it’s too hard to resist the urge to do some mixed painting completely. I try to at least stay on a colour theme though! Most of the dyes are the usual Kemtex Procion MX loveliness but there are a few Colourcraft colours in there, including the Lime Green, which is the pale, yellowy green colour and their Purple/Magenta. I’m not sure they actually do these colours any more or whether they’re now listed as Dytek Procion dyes. I picked these up on sale a while ago and have no strong feelings about them either way. The purple is a decent purple and the lime green lives up to its name but I think lime green is an easy enough colour to get by mixing and the purple doesn’t fill some gap in what I can get from Kemtex so I could also live without it. They do the job well enough though.
The orange is a mixture of Brilliant Orange MX-2R and some of my own mixed oranges. The yellow is sections of Acid Lemon MX-8G and Lemon Yellow MX-4G. The differences aren’t obvious from these photos but I like having both of these yellows for mixing. Acid Lemon has a bit more ‘zing’ to it and is great for really sharp greens in particular whereas Lemon Yellow is good for mixing with reds to make ‘fuller’ oranges. Let’s face it, I just love having lots of colours to play with.
At the moment, I’ve started spinning up one or two of these and will probably ply them just with some plain cotton that I’m using just for weaving some test samples. Just something quick and easy to have a play with! Going to need to dye up some more cottons soon I think and maybe think about having a go at a full painted warp at some point…