Sorry to say I have been too busy to felt again. I am hoping to have a little more time now my mom’s house is in possession of the new owners. I thought people might like to see this post I made in 2012 about dying silk blanks with MX dye. this method works with big things too. I did a dress for my much skinnier self once and some boxer shorts. something else I learned since I posted this the first time is that you can use these dyes as acid dies by using a mild acid and heat. the colours aren’t quite as vibrant but if you can only get one kind of dye this will do double duty for you.
I dye my own silk and one of the ways I do that is with MX dye. MX Dye is a fibre-reactive dye and works on cellulose or plant fibres like cotton, linen and hemp. It also works on silk. As far as I know, silk is the only fibre that you can use both weak acid dyes that are for protein fibres and the MX dyes.
I like to use the low water dye method. With this method, you use a jar and just a little water. What I do is scrunch or twist or pleat up my silk to be dyed. In this case, they are all about 2 feet wide and 8 feet long. Then you pack it into the bottom of a jar that is big enough to hold the silk and the dye (1/2 a cup) and the fixative (1/4-1/2 cup). It is important that it be a snug fit for this method to work.
I mix up 2 colours of MX dye in 1/4 cup of room temperature water. Pour them over the silk in the jar one at a time making sure the silk is covered with liquid. If it floats, as you can see a couple of my jars did, you need to carefully weigh them down with something non-metal. Metal will affect the dye. This is another reason you want them tightly jammed in the bottom of the jar but sometimes it happens anyway. Once the dye is in the jar you don’t want to disturb them. You don’t want the dyes to mix completely and give you a solid colour.
I am very impatient. So I usually go do something else for 20 min to an hour then I come back and add the fixative. With MX dye you have to raise the PH to get the dye to stick. The cheapest thing for this is PH up from the pool store. You can use washing soda not baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) or order it from your dye supplier but pool chemical is cheap, especially at the end of the season. I add a tablespoon for each cup of water including the water you’re mixing with. Stir to dissolve and then pour it into the jar. You should leave it for an hour to react but I am impatient as I said and usually dump everything out after about 20 min. Rinse the silk in cold water then hot soapy water then one more cold. Here are some results.
I am sorry the pictures aren’t better but the wind wouldn’t cooperate. They were dry in about 10 min.
Here are some others I’ve done over the years. It is a really fun and easy way to play with dye. You should give it a try.
The other Day I went over to my friend Elizabeth’s house To play with MX or fiber reactive dyes. these are the dye you use for cellulose fibers and silk. I had planed on doing some silk as I am low on some colours but I could not find my silk top. I know I have some but I do not know where it is hiding. Instead I took some flax/linen, hemp and tencel . I had never dyed any of them before.
Here is the dye set up, we are doing low water immersion dyeing.
While I was doing fibers
Elizabeth was doing small skeins. Experimenting for dyeing warps for her loom and to sell.
Elizabeth is a “good” dyer. she measures and rights down how much of each colour she mixed and how much she used for each one. She will be able to reproduce what ever she or her customers would like. Here are Elizabeth’s result. Various fibers: 2/8 and 2/16 cotton, 2/8 bamboo, cottolin and hemp/cotton.
I on the other hand am a “bad” dyer. I just put a bit of dye in the water and wing it. That’s ok because I don’t need to reproduce the exact colour and shade again.
This is my result.
Here they are with the undyed fibers, on the left hemp, on the right tencel and on the bottom is flax/linen.
I did some close ups for you too. The hemp compacted a bit when I squeezed the excess water out. It fluffed up and softened when I shook it and gave it a wack on the table.
The tencel got all crimpy. I was quite surprised.
the flax/linen stayed compacted despite several good wacks on the table. I am not surprised really when yo spin linen you spin it wet. I think it helps it “glue” the fibers smoothly together.
I think I will blend the fibers with some wool to try spinning and to felt with. It was a fun day with Elizabeth, It is always good when you are sharing with other fiber lovers.
I needed to dye some orange wool to make a flower for a customer so if I am going to get the dye pot out I might as well do a bunch of dying. You can never have enough dyed wool. I dye on the side burner of my BBQ outside when the weather is above freezing. Now it’s not much above freezing, it was only about 10c/50f but that’s good enough for me.
I made a bunch of 100gram/3.5oz balls of merino top. I heat up the big dye pot of water with some vinegar. I Unwind a ball and soak it in warm slightly soapy water. I mix my dye and add it to the pot. I gently squeeze the water out of the soaked wool and pop it into the dye pot. I let it go from 20-40 min. If the waters clear I take it out early, if it’s not I leave it for the 40 min. While it’s cooking I start the next wool soaking and mix the dye. My water is very hard and it effects the dye process. I don’t think I have ever managed to get an even dye job. that is one of the reasons I usually recard most of my wool. Dyeing with rain water is on my list for this summer. My rain water comes of a metal roof so I don’t know how much difference it will make but its worth a try .
This is the result of Saturday and Sunday. The wind was not cooperating so excuse the sloppy display. I was just happy they stayed on the back of the chairs long enough to get a picture.
Here they all are in groups
I couldn’t get the colours one right no matter how I fiddled. There are 5 colours there. The middle 3 all look the same. Two are very close but one is purple and turquoise.
This one is pretty close to true.
This is very close to true. The pale green is from an MX or fibre reactive dye used as an acid dye. Its called sage leaf. The one next to it, fourth from the top is supposed to be olive drab but is more like sage leaf. The yellow and green one is the exhaust batch after the greens and I quite like it. I think I will recard it to blend the small spots of green in to it. The blue is the exhaust after the purples.
While these where in the pot I added some yarns too. These are all form when I was learning to spin. I didn’t like the colours.
This was a natural brown plied with a white. It went into the bright blue dye bath.
The purple one was white. The one on the right was natural grey plied with white. It went in the sage bath.. The one on the left was another brown and white and it went in the olive drab dye bath. You can see the purple and the gray have gone all curly with not being plied properly. They are not balanced yarns. I think they will be fine to use for decoration on felt. It will add interest.
The one on the right is a commercial ladder yarn that was a horrible pale green. I had no idea what it was made off except it wasn’t natural. I tossed it into the bright blue bath to see what would happen. It came out great. The top one went into one of the purple baths. It was a purple I mixed myself with turquoise and red. It spit into turquoise and purple. The others were ones that I bought mixed but they split too. One of them started out pink but I can’t figure out which one now.
All in all a good weekend I didn’t even felt them badly like I usually do.
I was running out of dyed silk hankies so it was time to brake out the dyeing supplies. before I started anything I had to soak the silk Hankies. They do not like to get wet the way silk fabric does. They really resist. I soaked them for 24 hours in some water with a little soap.
I used MX dye and a low water technique. I smooshed the silk in the bottom of some small containers form the dollar store.
Then I mixed up some dye in little measuring cups using only a small amount of water. Just enough so the silk will be covered after I add two colours.
I added the dye and let it sit for about an hour at room temperature. I mixed up some PHup ( the stuff you use for pools, sodium carbonate) 1 spoon full for each cup of water used in the dye and the water you are mixing it in. I poured some into each container and let it sit a while longer, about 15 min.
I then rinsed them in room temp water and then some soapy water then clear water. One was to much all one colour so I did a spot dye.
And here they are drying on the table.
I will use them for surface design on hats and pots and to make flower designs on surfaces by folding and twisting them. you can layer them or stretch them out thin. You can spin with them too if you like.
I dye my own silk and one of the ways I do that is with MX dye. MX Dye is a fiber reactive dye and works on cellulose or plant fibers like cotton , linen and hemp. It also works on silk. As far as I know silk is the only fiber that you can use both weak acid dyes that are for protein fibers and the MX dyes on.
I like to use the low water dye method. With this method you use a jar and just a little water. What I do is scrunch or twist or pleat up my silk to be dyed. In this case they are all about 2 feet wide and 8 feet long. Then you pack it into the bottom of a jar that is big enough to hold the silk and the dye (1/2 a cup) and the fixative (1/4-1/2 cup). It is important that it be a snug fit for this method to work.
I mix up 2 colours of MX dye in 1/4 cup of room temperature water. Pour them over the silk in the jar one at a time making sure they silk is covers with liquid. If it floats as you can see a couple of my jars did you need to carefully weight them down with something non metal. Metal will effect the dye. Once the dye is in the jar you don’t want to disturb them. You don’t want the dyes to mix completely and give you a solid colour.
I am very impatient. So I usually go do something else for 20 min to an hour then I come back and add the fixative. With MX dye you have to raise the PH to get the dye to stick. The cheapest thing for this is PH up from the pool store. You can use washing soda( not bicarbonate of soda) or order it from your dye supplier but pool chemical is cheap especially at the end of the season. I add a tablespoon for each cup of water including the mix water. Stir to dissolve and then pour it into the jar. You should leave it for an hour to react but I am impatient as I said and usually dump everything out after about 20 min. Rinse the silk in cold water then hot soapy water then one more cold. Here are some results.