Dyeing cotton and silk

I've spent the last three days dyeing 40/2 cotton and 60/2 silk in compatible colorways to weave in some exciting new designs I have been working on.  It is such a joy to dye my own colors, getting precisely what I want and being part of the process.  It is slow, single minded work that requires attention and care, with such a great payoff when complete!  The last of the first set of skeins is almost dry and I will being winding the warp and dressing the loom next week!   I used Procion MX dyes with soda ash as the activator for the cotton and vinegar as the activator for the silk and got exactly the colors I was attempting!  Fun times!  Anyone else working on dyeing??

Su :-)


Posted on Fri, 03/26/2010 - 17:35

I wish!!  I am starting to play with doubleweave and would LOVE to get my greedy little hands dyeing another set or two of gradated colors (a sequence of skeins that gradually blend from one color to another), because I think that would be really exciting with doubleweave - but until the wedding-dress is done, appraised, and carefully stored away, I'm not letting ANY dye into the house!

The good news is that the appraisal is scheduled for April 4, which means the dress MUST be complete by then, so I can start dyeing on April 5!

Anyone else doing dyeing?


Posted on Sun, 04/11/2010 - 14:31

Only about 10 oz of freshly scoured wool last weekend, when we had warm weather and I could put my gear out on the porch!  It snowed this weekend so any more wet fiber work has to wait.  DH won't tolerate fumes, smells, or particles at all and the house has to be kept tight to hold heat.

Once the weather turns there will be lots more carding and dyeing outside.

Posted on Sun, 04/11/2010 - 23:11

 I am taking Liesel's natural dye class via distance learning thru Northern New Mexico College and just ran 2 pounds of wool thru the alum sulfate mordant process.  I am holding the skeins in the alum bath in 5 gallon tubs on my dye porch.  I go out and stir them every other day until their time to dye comes!  In the meantime, the skeins continue to cure in the mordant.

We are going thru 8 different natural dyes....1st up is yellow....osage orange/fustic and weld.....Interesting to learn how other people approach the dyepot.  Grateful she is running this class!

ps, duuh, I just reread the thread title and it is clearly marked cotton and silk dyeing, my apologies for talking wool in this thread!  Deb

Posted on Fri, 05/14/2010 - 08:20

Is there someone with experience, how to dye a cotton roving?  Some times ago I bought a  hand dyed cottonfibre at cotton clouds. Spinning was so much fun.  Wich dyes are usefull for cotton? Do I always have to card the cotton after dying- or is there a way to prevent this?

Grateful for a couple of ideas.


Posted on Fri, 05/14/2010 - 13:58

HI Kristina......painting the roving is a good way to get a lot of different shades of one color or many different colors into the roving.  I would use a Fiber reactive dye like Procion MX to dye cotton.  You can find excellent instructions on a myriad of ways to dye with Procion MX dye on the ProChemical and Dye website at www.prochemicalanddye.com   Scroll to the bottom and on the left is a choice for product instructions.  Click on that, choose the kind of dye you wish to work with and then click on an appropriate method.  I hope a spinner can answer your carding question. 


Posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 15:32

I have just started a new indigo vat.  My fermentation experiment last summer wasn't much good , so this time I am using Thiourea Dioxide and soda ash.  My test  piece of silk worked incredibly well and when the weather warms up again I will make a large vat and work outside. (yikes what an on and off again spring!)   I am dyeing the second of two woven shibori scarves, a sample piece.  I started with an over dye using Procion MX in rust and pulled the ties.  On the sample I will discharge the colour on half, then do the indigo.  I want to compare the effect of the indigo overdyed on the rust  and plain white before I decide how to to the scarf.

Then I will dye whatever else I can  until the pot runs out!  


Posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 16:02

 Cool! This sort of project is on my "to do" list. Maybe someday this summer I'll get to it....  Please, please post pictures when you are done!


Posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 17:03

You know that since your indigo vat contains thiourea dioxide (a common discarge reagent) , the indigo vat will discharge dyes, especially fiber reactive dyes that discharge easily.

Posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 17:04

I've just finished dyeing the next 66 skeins in my 400+ skein Sabraset dye sample set (dyed on 30/2 silk).  I have about another 132 skeins to go before the sample set is finished. 

The sample set consists of all combinations of the "pure" Sabraset colors, graded in 10% intervals (100% color A, 90% color A 10% color B, 80% color A 20% color B, etc.).  So a total of 11 skeins per color combo.  I added Washfast Golden Yellow, Washfast Magenta, and Polar Red to the "pure" Sabraset dyes to increase the color range.

Why am I doing this?  Two reasons: (1) I want to learn more about color mixing, and this is a good way to see, visually, what happens when you mix yellow and violet, or an orange-red and a bluish yellow, etc. (2) I'm creating a wonderful palette of colors I can later pick from when deciding what colors to dye for a given project.

Once I finish with Sabraset (acid) dyes, I'm going to move on and do another 440 skeins in Sabracron F (fiber-reactive dye), since you can dye silk both ways.  That should give me a very complete palette to choose from, and a lot of education on color mixing!

I'm hoping to finish the Sabraset dye samples by the end of Memorial Day weekend.  The wedding is in three weeks, so I don't want to do any dyeing after Memorial Day - otherwise, I might have to go to the wedding with dye stains on my hands!!  (I do wear gloves, but splashes happen!)


Posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 21:41

This was something I had wondered about!  Because I used Procion MX it should just discharge and I don't need to do two steps? 


Posted on Fri, 05/21/2010 - 21:45

I did a dye set using primaries/secondaries  in various strengths using Ciba dyes years ago and  though I don't use that particular dye anymore it is still a valuable resource. 

I had planned to do tertiary hues, just never got to it! 

Posted on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 20:30

I have begun my indigo pot today and have done my sample (pics coming) 

I did begin by discharging half the scarf first to see what the colour differences might be.  Despite the indigo vat containing thiourea dioxide which is the discharge agent I am using, there is a huge colour difference.  The indigo vat does not contain enough of the discharge agent to make much if any difference on the orange half of the sample.  Also the sample is in the vat for only a short time - not long enough to do any discharging.

I like the effect of the indigo on the discharged side much better.  The colour is cleaner and it is taking many dips to make a difference on the orange side.  I am looking forward to undoing the shibori ties to see what the final effect will be.

Posted on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 20:49

Only 40 yards in each skein (I'm using 30/2 silk).  I'm fortunate enough to have found someone willing to wind the skeins onto bobbins for me in exchange for the leftover skeins - it only takes 2-3 yards to wind a bobbin, so she is getting most of the yarn!  I think I have a total of 495 samples in this color set, so she gets nearly 1 kg of yarn in a huge palette of shades.


Posted on Mon, 10/23/2017 - 22:24

I'd like to try dyeing some cotton yarn, but am having trouble finding a wholesale source for Egyptian mercerized cotton, 8/2 or 10/2, preferred.  Any help would certainly be appreciated.  Thanks!  Lydia in Texas