Dye Lot #1

October 21, 2011 9:42 pm

A couple weeks ago I decided to try dying some of my own thread.  Actually, I decided quite a while ago that I wanted to give it a try, but hadn’t gotten around to it.  Then a couple weeks ago I had a dream in which I was wearing a dress decorated with hand-dyed-thread of a very specific color.  The next day while teaching my tatting class at Piecemakers in Costa Mesa I found that they had two random boxes of r.i.t. dye, one of which looked like it was exactly the color I dreamed about.  Of course, I had to get it and try it that very night.  Nevermind that I was visiting my parents that night or that I got to their place after 10pm.  Luckily they were out of town that night and wouldn’t be back until late the next day so I was able to stay up until 5am dying thread.

I already had a bunch of skeins wound up because I had a couple balls of a not-very-good white thread that I wanted to use up, but didn’t know what to do with.  I figured I’d sacrifice them to my dying experiments since I wouldn’t be very upset if they were wasted.  So I had a couple skeins wound of size 30 of some unknown brand and a bunch of size 10 in Royal.  Years ago I bought 3 of the gigantic skeins of Royal in white and I’d only used about a half of one.  By the end of the night of playing with dye I’d finished that one off and made a pretty good dent in the second.

I also wanted to try dying thread with food coloring so I did that first.  Didn’t really work for me.  I added a few drops of food coloring and vinegar to the hot water (the way that I dye eggs), and when I rinsed the thread all the color washed out and I was left with some very pastel colors which weren’t really what I was going for.  I left it out to dry and even though I thought I’d gotten all the color that was going to wash out it still left a faint bit of color on the papertowels when I went back to look at it, so I think it will probably still fade a bit more with time.

After the food coloring failed I switched to the real fabric dye and not surprisingly it worked great.  :)  Mostly I was just experimenting and trying things out with the amount of dye and the length of time the thread was left in the water.  I tried a couple variegated skeins and they worked pretty well.

My modest dying bucket was a cottage cheese container. I put it on a piece of plastic (actually a old cearal bag) that hung over the sink so when I made the varigates by hanging the skein over the side it would drain into the sink.  I ended up making a lot more than I intended to, but I figured as long as I had dye left in the water I should just keep winding up skeins and playing around with it.  Seemed like a shame to waste the dye so I just kept adding hot water and going and going until it was 5am.  The dyed thread kept getting fainter and fainter and finally I left one last skein in the water and went to bed.  When I woke up it had soaked up the rest of the water and the dye and looked pretty nice.

They dried pretty slowly just sitting on the counter so I ended up taking a hair drier to them to try to get my parents kitchen back to normal by the time they got home.  I’ve done a bit of tatting with the thread since then and I like the way it came out.  It wasn’t very uniform and I have a lot more respect for all the thread dyers out there who are able to make an exact science out of it and end up with a uniform product.  Since I wasn’t really going for any specific colors or variegates it all looks great to me.

I used only a really small amount of the dye so I’ll definitely play around with it some more.  Last time I was at Piecemakers then I bought the other color of dye they had which is a golden yellow.  I’m not big on multicolor threads, but I’ll probably give it a try or two at some point.  Luckily I bought a huge amount of white thread on clearance when all the Joanns in Southern CA stopped carrying thread so I’ve got a lot to use up.  Problem is that all this thread is going to take a really long time to tat with and I’m trying to shrink my supply stash.  I guess I’ve figured out what to give to tatters for Christmas…

2 Responses to “Dye Lot #1”

Diane wrote a comment on October 22, 2011

I love working with hand-dyed threads, but it’s not something I care to try myself! Good for you, trying something new!

admin wrote a comment on October 23, 2011

Thanks Diane. It’s not something I’m going to get too serious about, but it sure is fun to tat with thread I dyed myself.

Care to comment?