Kettle dyeing with MX dyes.

I tried dyeing some of the Shetland fleece I was given with some of my mx procion dyes. I’d read something about being able to use exhausted procion mx dyes on wool or silk you just need to put an acid with them to make them work. I know the colours don’t always come true but given that I have two tubs worth of mx dyes I thought I’d give it a shot.

The fleece I was given is a very fine (as in micron count) fleece. The only problem I had with it was that the rise or break in the fibre occurred about 2/3 – 1/2 way down the tips so there was a lot of wasteage. I decided that I was going to card all of it together and just spin it woolen and not worry about what I got. I consider this a practise fleece. The first practise was in washing and cleaning the fleece. It was very full of peat and the amount of dirt that came out of the fibre incredible but I did pick most of it out.

Next I decided to practise my woolen spinning skills and make big fat yarn, which came out not too badly with the hat and cowl I made my granddaughter Charlie. Here’s a picture of her wearing her hat. Bad grandma disturbed her lunch to get it so she’s not too happy with me. LOL, plus she’s wearing her spaghettio’s on her face.
eating spaghettios

So figuring the fleece owed me nothing I decided to drum card up a couple of batts and try dyeing them using the paint method. I didn’t bother taking pictures of the process (meaning I forgot) but this is where you lay out your pre-soaked fibre on sarah wrap, paint it, wrap it up and then steam it.

I really don’t know what I’m doing or how long I should be steaming the packages but the last time I tried this with the wilton’s food colour I just steamed until the water ran clear. This didn’t happen with the procion mx dyes. I’m not sure if it’s because I used too much dye or because they are procion mx dyes and they don’t run clear. Anyhow the eggplant when used on cotton gives you a beautiful dark purple, that’s not what I got. On the other hand the tangerine came out vividly so go figure.

Next I decided to dye some fleece that hadn’t been carded to see what happened. Again I decided to try using my procion mx dyes because I have some nice colour combinations so I used Intense blue, boysenberry and golden yellow.

ultra blue bosenberry golden yellow
Fleece in dye pot with blue, boysenberry and yellow.

In the pot the dyes started to mix so I could see the green and purple starting to show. Of course it didn’t stop there and to my dismay the blue and boysenberry totally took over the yellow.

Blended dyes

Well needless to say the dye didn’t totally absorb into the wool or the water run clear. I tried simmering the wool for about 50 minutes and left it to cool quite a bit before I rinsed the whole thing. Lots of dye went down the drain and I also found out that none of the blue dye took. I was left with boysenberry and a boysenberry-golden yellow type of orange. Not sure why the blue didn’t take but I have a feeling blue takes longer to absorb into wool.

rinsed fibre still wet
Rinsed fibre still wet.

Next morning the wool was dry and it hadn’t really lightened like fibre is supposed to. If anything it seemed darker to me but then again I dyed this late last night so the lighting wasn’t that great.

dried boysenberry mix
Dry wool, actually more purplish than pink in real life.

Anyhow the mystery of the blue yarn with the barber pole effect (previous post) was solved as the tips of the fleece turned out really dark. When I washed the fleece there were a lot of dark dirty tips that didn’t come clean in the wash. You’re really kind of helpless to try and get these tips clean unless you want a felted mess from disturbing the wool to much so I just comb them out when the fleece is dry. So the tips were still dirty and I guess my hair-dresser was right when he said dirty hair absorbs the dye better.

Darker tips.

Then I carded up some of the dyed wool into a batt. It was really kind of pretty but I carded it a third time so most of the pretty streaks from the orange were lost into the batt but the batt needed an extra turn through the drum carder to make it more uniform so I lost the variation.

Here is a picture of all three batts.

Eggplant, Tangerine, Boysenberry.

And here is a picture of what I woke up to this morning.

winter wonderland
Winter wonderland.

Next, what to do with the different coloured batts?

One response to “Kettle dyeing with MX dyes.

  1. When using the procion dyes I soak my wool in vinegar until it’s thoroughly soaked then squeeze it out before putting it into the dye. I must admit I generally only dye yarn as when I tried dyeing fleece I ended up with a tangled mat even though I was very careful. Try also adding a big splash of vinegar to your dye water. That may help the take up. Also any grease on the wool will to some extent stop the dye taking. Lovely colours by the way.

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