Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dying Merino Wool using Jacquard Procion MX and Acid Dyes

Abominable Snow Bunny
I have been doing quite of bit of needle felting lately (see my most recent figure, the Abominable Snow Bunny, at right) and have found that I need more color variations than what I can currently find pre-dyed roving.  As I have plenty of Procion MX and Acid dye on hand for use on silk, I decided to try it on wool roving since it is also a natural fiber.

My next felt project is going to be a frog but I found I did not have the greens on hand that I wish to use.  I took small jars and put them in a pot with water.  I mixed small quantities of dye in each year with vinegar and water.  The next step was to wet the wool with room temperature water and then submerge in the jar.  Once the wool/dyes are in place in the pot, I see the stove burner temperature to "3" which is just below a low simmer.  Once the water is hot to the touch, I set the timer for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, the burner is turned off and allowed to cool to room temperature.  When cool (usually 4-5 hours), rinse in room temperature water, and allow to dry.

Here are a few things I discovered through experimentation:
  • I found I had more consistent coverage with dye when the roving was wet with plain water rather than tossed into the dye dry.
  • Braiding the roving before submerging in dyes also helps with preventing felting of wool.
  • When removing the roving before it is allowed to cool to room temperature in the pot, it tends to felt (see image below.  Roving to the left of the red line was removed from pot while still hot and rinsed in warm water.  Roving to the right of the line was allowed to cool to room temperature).