Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Silk Cap Dyeing

I've been experiencing a bit of a dyeing extravaganza lately. It's been so long since I've colored any fiber, and I've decided to do up a bunch of solid colors so I can experiment with color blending using my carder. (I'll post pics of the newly dyed fluff during another post.) A little while ago I purchased some silk caps from Copper Moose through Ebay. (It was a great experience, and I'll definitely shop with them again!) I've been itching to dye one and decided to go for it today since I had the dyes out.

So here's a bit of a step by step. I had read in a few places that silk takes quite a pre-soaking for it to be able to absorb dye. Therefore, I put it in to soak last night with a couple drops of washing soap to act as a wetting agent. I later read that it only has to soak for approx 30 minutes. lol. Right before dyeing, I spun out the excess water in my washing machine.

Here's my fancy dye cups. :) I used Mango Kool Aid, Navy Blue Rit liquid dye, and Scarlet Rit Liquid dye. Since I was going to be "painting" the dye one, I mixed approximately 3 ounces of vinegar into each dye cup.

I laid out some scrap towels on my counter top since I tend to be a bit sloppy when I'm doing anything "artistic". On top of the towels I laid out two sheets of plastic wrap, overlapping each to make one wider sheet. (I really recommend that you do NOT use the Press and seal type of plastic wrap for this. The "sticky" side of it will grab the silk fibers too much, and having the sticky side out can cause some other difficulties. Unfortunately, I discovered this too late in the game, and it's all I had to work with so I just dealt with it. I'll buy some inexpensive plastic wrap and keep it in my dyeing kit for the future.) On top of the plastic wrap I laid out the silk cap.

I then used a spoon to "pour" dye on where I wanted it. I was going to use those cute little foam brushes, but discovered too late that I didn't have any. No problem though, as this method was very quick and got me the results I wanted. After I had the dye where I wanted it, I laid another sheet of plastic wrap over the silk cap, making sure it was covered completely and pushing out any air inside it. Then I rolled it up and put it into a Pyrex dish in the microwave. I nuked it for 2 min, let it sit for 2 min, nuked it for 2...etc. for a total nuking of 6 or 8 minutes. Basically until the liquid in the wrapping was clear. OK, not totally clear. It's really really hard to get the Scarlet to exhaust completely and you usually have to rinse some of that out. So when the only color left was a light red, I stopped.
At this point I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed until I thought I got all the excess dye out. (I say thought because, well, I think I did...but we'll see later I'm sure. lol) Then it went into a mesh baggie in the washer for a spin to get the extra water out.
And here it is laying on the drying rack in the living room. I can not wait for this to dry! I've never spun from a silk cap before, so this is all a learning experience for me. I can't wait to peel off the layer and work them into roving to spin from. I'm sure I'll take some pics of that process too.....provided I don't get carried away. I'm very happy with the bright colors achieved on this one!
I've done about 7 small color batches this week and I'll do up some more probably before posting the colors. I'd like a good array of colors to mess about with.
As for the rest of the night, I'm off to knit. I've been on my feet all day cleaning and dyeing and feel good about the amount of work I've accomplished. Now I just need to knit and relax till dinner. (Oh yeah, and get a pooch picture for DOT. (Dogs on Thursday)


Donna said...

Wow, April that is one awesome process. I can't wait to see what you spin. Give Tucker a scratch behind his soft ears for me. Oliver send out a woof.

Cindy said...

Pretty pretty pretty stuff. I cannot wait to see how it spins up. Give Tucker a hug for me, please? Also, Grover sends a big paw "hey" to your big boy.

Anonymous said...

Dag nabbit that is some BRIGHT colors. That looks so good! I will say Oscar wants to say "HI" to tucker but he also says, "I am 5 lbs DON"T eat me."