Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Microwave Dying

I’m loving spending time in the basement. It’s not really very fancy down there but it is so fun to watch and visit with the chicks. One week and they are growing so fast.

There’s another reason I like our basement and that’s because it’s where I do my dying. Aubrey asked if I would share some information on dying- so what follows are some of my notes, gathered from here and there and everywhere, about microwave dying.- definitely my favorite low stress way to play with fiber and color. Please note that the reason I like this method so much is that it is NOT a very scientific method. If you are able to allow yourself the space to play with this you’ll have a lot of fun. I promise!

To be safe I have supplies dedicated to crafts and I do this work away from our eating area. Larry built a high worktable for me in the basement near a utility sink. Lots of people do dye on the stovetop. Still they use dedicated pots and are very careful about powder and dye spills.

Supplies I Use

Jacquard Acid Dyes
Measuring spoons and cups
Mason Jars
Squeeze bottles with caps
Roving or fleece
Plastic Wrap- I use industrial size food service rolls
Microwave dedicated to crafts
Rubber gloves
Dust mask for when you measure out the powder
Newspaper if needed to protect surface (I don’t use it)

Mix your dye solution –(This is when you put your mask on.) 
2 teaspoons of powder to 1 quart of boiling water.  I use mason jars. Stir. Some of the colors are grainier than others and it takes a bit to get them to dissolve. Transfer some dye to squirt bottles with funnel. You can mix and dilute these solutions.

Soak your fiber at least a couple of hours to make sure it’s thoroughly wetted. Some folks add a slosh of vinegar at this point.

Lift fiber carefully from bucket and press out excess water. Some people spin out the water in their washing machine. I just use my hands.Please note you don't want to add the dye to dry fiber- it won't take right and I've also heard it can catch fire in the microwave.

Lay a strip of your fiber out on your work surface on top of the plastic.

Squirt  dyes with abandon on the fiber. I left more white on this batch than I have in the past because I wanted to experiment to see how it looked in the finished yarn.

Spray with vinegar.

Fold wrap over and seal. I don’t try to thoroughly seal it.

I coil my bundle up and place it on the microwave turntable.

I have seen folks give instructions for various times. On this batch I set the timer for 4 minutes and then repeated it two more time for a total of 12 minutes. I turn the bundle over in between spurts of cooking. The plastic will pouf up- I’ve never had an explosion yet- knock on wood….

I have found it works best to let the fiber cool and then rest overnight. I think it helps to set the dye. The cooking process really should exhaust the dye but sometimes if you've used a heavy hand with the dyes you will get bleeding. Rinse carefully avoiding agitation and changes in water temperature. You can add a glug of vinegar to the rinse to help set the color at this point as well.

Press out  water. I use an old towel. Hang to dry.

Merino dyed with various blues and greens some black and ochre

A 3 ply sample. This is one of those times I just wish I could hand you the yarn itself. The color and the soft squishiness are really difficult to translate in a photo.

Here's some 2 ply Shetland dyed with the same process, using mostly the same colors. The merino above had black and ochre added to the mix and I didn't use the bright green.

Have fun with it! I should have started off with a warning...Playing with fiber and color is very addictive.

An excellent resource....While it doesn’t have details about microwave dying- my favorite book about dying, spinning and making socks is “The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook” by Lynne Vogel.. It’s loaded with all kinds of creative ideas.

No comments: