Friday, May 29, 2009

Trying dyeing

Yesterday and today I've been dyeing fabric, following directions in Color by Accident, by Ann Johnston, for low water immersion dyeing using fiber reactive dyes. I don't know what I'm doing, so am just going lock-step through the book, creating colors I normally don't use in my quilts. But this will be a chance to try new color schemes. On many of these fabrics I will be doing additional work, such as painting, stamping, coloring, and overdyeing.

"Color by accident" is a good description for what I am doing, since "accident about to happen" described my experience. Blue-dyed fingers is one example (forgot gloves yesterday, but the color wore off by today). Since there are waiting periods in the dyeing process, I found myself overlapping batches, and since I'm a newbie at this, keeping several different time schedules and sets of instructions in my brain resulted in a few mistakes.

One thing I will do next time is to write in big letters on my containers: PLAIN WATER, and SODA ASH, so I don't get them mixed up. I did, several times, and am not sure what the effect was. I know I messed up on the green-blue piece, and maybe it would have been more pleasing had I done it correctly.

Another thing I will do is hang a clock on the potting shed wall to keep my cell phone from getting drowned in dye when I turn it on with a rubber-gloved finger to see what time it is. The cell phone remained miraculously dry for the most part, but I could see the possibility of a very wet phone if I weren't careful.

Today I remembered to wear rubber gloves, but they proved useless due to my great skill and grace. Ahem. I had a rubber-banded ball of cloth in a bowl, and decided it needed to be in a deeper container so as to be covered with the dye instead of sitting in a puddle, so I poured the dye from the bowl into a quart jar (mistake in sequences) and worked at forcing the ball of wet fabric into the jar. It slipped in suddenly, of course, and with the impact, the dark blue dye spurted out the sides of the jar like a volcano, splots landing on my face, head, other pieces of fabric, but with most of it going down inside my glove. My arm, wrist, and hand were again blue, and while my right glove was drying out, I tried to do everything left handed.

My little potting shed by the garden has been transformed into my dyeing shed. I love this location under the growing sycamore tree. It's a solitary outdoor place to enjoy myself. The shed has a sink and cold-water faucet in the far corner that is handy for some of the process, but since my water is very hard, I bring out warm, softened water from the house for the dye baths.

I've been washing out the dye with a hose in a bucket. Maybe someone can tell me if that's a good idea or not. I follow up with a warm rinse, then a hot wash (Synthrapol or substitute) in the washing machine.


BioFueler said...

What are the "things" which set that type of dye other than the absorbtion by the fiber? The chemistry,temperature,time?

If you are using the correct chemistry at the correct time should hot rather than warm water be the first rinse to set the remnant dyes?

How do you know when the dyes are set adequately to do the final drying and ironing in preparation for the cutting and sewing?

Keep us posted on your progress.

LynnDel said...

Good questions! Maybe an experienced person can answer them.

Trish Goodfield said...

Sounds like you had lots of fun, which is the main thing. A general answer to the other questions is 'it depends'.

Different dyes will have different instructions. For example the Cold Reactive Dye I uses specifies first rinse in cold water. And to the last question the answer is 'when the water runs clear'.

Hope that hepls without getting too boring with details.

LynnDel said...

Thanks, Trish - I love simplicity!