Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kettle Dyeing for Turkeys

I thought it might be useful to document my latest fiber dyeing escapade. I am terrible about taking notes or keeping dye records. Everyone who dyes fiber does things a little differently, so perhaps someone will find this interesting.

Last week, Wal-Mart had their electric turkey roasters on sale for $22. This is the sort of thing I had been waiting for. I had been wanting a new dye pot, and this seemed like the perfect choice.
The Turkey Roaster is sort of like a large crockpot, but better since there are more temperatures to choose from. This roaster will never see a turkey or food, since it is contaminated with dye.

Last weekend I had to try it out. I kettle dyed some bats of Romney wool. It is always hard for me to decide what colors I would like to use. I decided I need some more neutrals, since I don't have much neutral yarn.

I have one color of Jacquard Acid Dye called Chestnut that I had never tried - perfect for my neutral theme. I filled the roaster about half full of water and added about 1/2 cup of vinegar then left the water to heat. I filled another bucket with water and put the fiber - a bit over 8 ounces - in to soak while the water heated up.

I had an auxiliary thermometer to monitor the water temperature. I have found it is very hard to tell how hot the water actually is without the thermometer. When the water reached about 195 degrees, I added my dye - 1 cup of one percent Chestnut dye stock - and stirred to distribute the dye. I squeezed most of the water out of the fiber. Next I put the fiber into the dyepot and pushed it gently down into the dye. I adjusted the temperature to keep the pot hot but not boiling, covered the pot and left it for about a half hour. Then I turned it off and left it until it was completely cool.

At that point, the fiber had taken up all of the dye in the pot. I removed the fiber and put it into some warm water to rinse out the vinegar, then squeezed out the water and left the bat to dry.

I repeated this a couple of times over the next 2 days, using the same water and vinegar that was in the pot. The water was clear, so there was no problem with getting the colors mixed. Once I used about 1/4 cup of the same Chestnut dye which resulted in a pretty dark gold.

The other time I used black dye. My black dye stock is a 5 percent solution since I usually want strong color when I dye with black. I only used 1/4 cup of the strong dye stock. The fiber did not use all of the dye after the 30 minutes in the hot dye water, so I added additional dry fiber on top to take up the excess dye.
The fiber that was at the bottom of the pot is a dark charcoal. The fiber from the top of the pot is a beautiful silver gray. If I wanted really black fiber, I would need to overdye the charcoal again with black.

Kettle dyeing does not produce an even color. The fiber has dark and light spots. This works out fine though when the yarn is spun it has nice color depth.

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