Thursday, June 26, 2008

microwave dyeing question

Laura asked, "I have a sock blank at home crying to be dyed! I've been looking for direction re:microwaving to set color instead of over steaming water - can you direct and/or advise?"

Here's what I do. First add a bit of Orvus Paste to hot water and allow wool to soak in it for about a half hour. Drain and rinse in water that is about the same temperature of the wash water at the time it was drained. You don't want to shock the wool with a big temperature change or it might felt, although the Knit Picks sock blanks are superwash so it's not as big of a deal as it would be for non-superwash wool. Drain and wrap yarn in towels to get most of the water out but leave the yarn damp.

Apply dye to blank as desired. I use Jacquard acid dyes with some vinegar added when I mix the dye with water according to the directions that Jacquard provides. I spritz the blank with a little more vinegar when I'm done if I have further diluted the dyes that I used for that blank (to get lighter colors). Wrap the yarn in plastic wrap. I then set the wrapped blank into two old ice cream pails - I punched holes in one and then set it in the other. That way, any dye that escapes the plastic wrap will drain through the inner pail so it doesn't pool on the blank.

Microwave for about 3 minutes. You want it hot but not boiling. Rest it for a couple of minutes and microwave it again for another 3 minutes. This process can be repeated until the plastic wrap puffs up with steam and the dye seems to be exhausted from inside the plastic wrap.

At this point you can let the yarn cool in the plastic wrap or carefully unwrap the plastic wrap (you don't want to burn yourself on the escaping steam). Rinse the blank in water that matches the temp. of the wool at that point. Drain and wash the blank with water mixed with a bit of wool wash. Rinse until the water is clear. I usually add a glug of vinegar to the last rinse water to help set the dye so it won't run any more. Drain.

Carefully press on the yarn to get rid of as much excess water as possible. Lay flat to dry.

Hope that helps, Laura!

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