Monday, August 6, 2012

Dyeing Fibres

I've taken a break from weaving today to start preparing the dyes required for the next set of exercises. When I first received the course material I had a read through book 2 which contains the information for the Dyeing section for the year and realised I needed to source the dyes & glass bottles early on.

The 2 litre glass flagons were not as easy to find as I first thought (short of drinking a lot). I found a supplier on ebay that sold them in lots of 4. As I needed 5 I had to buy 2 sets. The supplier was a home brewing company. My local home brewing shop doesn't stock them but if you live in a more populated area this would be my suggestion. Seeing them in person I would have been able to select bottles with better lids. (you'd think that bottles meant for brewing/holding alcohol would have decent lids wouldn't you). Needless to say I was disappointed by the cheap lids on my flagons when they arrived (but at least there were no breakages which was my initial concern).

The dyes I bought from Kraftkolour as instructed in the book. I couldn't order directly from their site as the dyes were not listed in the online store section so I sent an email enquiry & ended up phoning and ordering over the phone.

Today I decided to mix the dye powders with water ready for the actual dyeing at a later date.

So, I got out my electronic scale, a measuring jug, plastic spoons and disposable gloves (I recommend changing them as soon as you get dye powder on them, as the smallest amount of water on the dye powder can mean a big mess!). I also rummaged in the back of the cupboard and found some paper patty cake cases.

My plan was to measure the dye powder into a patty case and then tip this into the flagon & add the water. I soon realised this wouldn't work as the first patty case was soon filling up with powder & I was not at the required quantity. Also I think it's better to add the powder directly to the flagon as it could've ended up a disaster trying to transfer all the powder into the flagon.

What I did was place the glass flagon (lidless) on the scale and tare the scales (zero it). Then I carefully spooned the dye powder into the flagon a little at a time. It helps to have a spoon that fits into the mouth of the bottle so that there is minimal powder around the top of the bottle. When the 20g was reached (or 10g in the case of the black) I added the water. I had previously marked with texta on one of the bottles where 2 litres of water came up to & copied this on to all the bottles.
The instructions say to use hot water. I boiled the kettle then added boiling water into a pouring jug with some  tap water to cool it slightly. After I added about a third of the water I capped it & gave it a swirl/shake to dissolve the dye powder. Then another few inversions after topping the water up the mark.

All my dyes are now mixed, the bottles are stored in a plastic tub on the laundry bench & I can't wait to actually dye some wool.

Back to the weaving.


  1. Yay, I'm excited to see some pics of your work!!

    I used apple juice flagons that had been sterilised! It's good to be prepared with the dyeing ... I left it to the last minute, which is *not* recommended ;)

  2. Have been away for a while with only a very small and hard to use computer so have been remiss in communication - sorry.

    Good to see you are really keeping up with the work schedule! I'll be starting the dyeing stuff in a day or so - am using 1 litre V8 veggie juice bottles - and will modify the quantities to fit that.

    Your colour sampler looks really great.

  3. It sounds like your course is really thorough. We were told to use a mask when dealing with powdered dyes and I know I got some interestingly coloured hankies when I blew my nose after not using the mask - so I recommend it!
    It is so hard to do exact measurements with home equipment - we were spoiled in our course by having little vacuum cupboards, precise scales, good science beakers, measuring spoons and similar equipment. It gets rather expensive to have the correct stuff and I didn't want to outlay that money when I wasn't sure I would ever dye enough to justify it - I tend to buy my yarns already dyed. (I did the RMIT Studio Textiles and Design course at the Brunswick campus, which is wonderfully equipped. Our dyeing was more for fabric but we did do a little bit of yarn dyeing.)