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I am working on Immersion dyeing right now and was having trouble getting even dyeing with my colors. So I spoke with Jesse Cushing at Cushing Dyes. He looked at some samples of my dyeing that I sent him. We decided that I might try adding more water to my pot (and therefore more vinegar) and to proke and probe more to get the dye to all the fibers. My colors are coming out much better and now the next problem. I am starting out with lukewarm water (on the cool side of lukewarm) and room temperature dyestock. I had soaked my Polwarth fiber overnite (Ivory dish soap and fairly warm water) Took the fiber out of the presoak, laid it carefully in my colander,did not squeeze it, then put it in my dyepot. I gently pressed it down and moved it around carefully to get the dye to all the fiber. Then I turned on the heat to about 315 degrees. As the temp of the water reached about 170, I turned the heat down to 200. Ilet it there for 45 minutes and pulled the plug. The dye was totally exhausted.  It was noon time. I let the lid on and came back at 11 that night. Gave it a rinse and laid it out to dry pretty dripping wet. The first batch was very compressed almost felted. The second batch is not as bad. Still very cobwebby in appearance. Should you stretch the roving out a tiny bit before putting it in the presoak? How do you get nice fluffy easier to draft roving out of the dyepot? According to the Book Of Wool, Polwarth is 75% Merino and 25% Lincoln. I have read Merino felts very easily. How does Merino perform when hand painting and wraping in plastic, then steaming? Has anyone had prolems with that? Christina have you ever had problems with Merino felting? How do you get that beautiful soft looking fiber? Thanks everyone.

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Thanks, Wendy... I may have to process the forsythia, and store it waiting to get some mordants... should be interesting.

I really like this idea!  One dye bath, different mordants! Will it work with spun wool?  I'm not a spinner.  And I have always had my mordants in water.  Did not know I could apply the mordant then rinse and dry and later dye!  I forsee a dye weekend in my future! Experiment time!

Yes you can do this with spun wool.  In fact one of the guild members was just saying last week that this is a really nice way to do it, as you will get different results all with just one color.  This is why you need to mordant the fibers individually, rinse and dry them.  If they are left wet and go into the dye pot, the mordants can get onto the other fibers and possibly change the affects you'll achieve.  I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say you've "always had your mordants in water".  

A dye weekend sounds like loads of fun!  

Great photos Wendy! I love that we all love fibery things! I actually did an experiment with a new mordant this week as I was inspired by this thread to try immersion dyeing again. I typed up the blog yesterday and it's waiting for approval, but you can see it here. I found another mordant seller in CA called Griffin Dyeworks. I tried logging onto their site, but it seems to be down. I did buy from them just last year so I know they are still around.  That painting looks like a lot of fun :)

Thank you Christina.  Am I the only one who is constantly thinking all things fiber while doing other things?  You know, like when you're painting your trellises and a spider web reminds you of fiber, or the pattern of the wood looks like when you're drafting fiber to spin, or you're taking a walk in the woods and a downed tree makes you want to go home and try to achieve that perfect shade of brown, rust, green, silver, gray-green you saw on the inside and outside of the rotting trunk?  And then the same rotting tree trunk with all the amazing texture and pattern on the inside gets you to thinking about knitting stitches and patterns?  Tell me I'm not alone here.  That I'm not crazy - lol! 

I tried to read your blog, as I was very excited when I read you were going to be doing one soon, but it will not open up with your link :o(   But I am curious to find out what new mordant you used this week :o)  I love reading about what others have tried and found to work or not to work and the what nots and why fors.  Your Griffin link is working now.  I remember reading their info last summer.  Very informative so thanks for sharing the link.  I will def. fave it under the proper folder this time.  I hope your blog comes complete with photos! 

The handpainted top is my all time favorite hand dyed wool that has been produced here.  It's so pretty I don't know if I can spin it.  But on the other hand, I want to make something for that DD out of it too.  Decisions, decisions - lol. 

Wendy, honey, we ALL have fiber on the brain.  The least little things make us think of all the things we could create, whether by knitting, spinning, or dyeing... it's like a disease that penetrates the brain and continues spreading.  A bit obsessive, probably... but perfectly harmless, and creative, too.  Plus look at all the neat knitted items and yarn.

oh, wait, that made me think of another idea.....and on I go.



OMG - I sooo do all of that! I walk to lunch and find myself stopped in front of a hibiscus bush and have to take out my iphone to take a picture (while hoping my colleagues aren't watching). Oh yes, I've got tons of photos of trees, dirt, plant life, drink coasters - you name it - just waiting to be make into a colorway, right? right? everyone with me? LOL!! And yes about the knitting stitches and patterns. I even took a photo of a wall in Panera once because I like how they painted it and wanted to make a sock pattern from it. I'll do it eventually :) Whew - so glad I'm in GOOD company with my madness obsession :)

I'm sorry the link doesn't work to my blog post (I just checked Griffin and that now works). If I'm not logged in, my post won't work, but if I am logged in, it says it's waiting for approval but I still see it. Guess we'll have to wait, but I can fill you in.

Some of the dyes (from Dharma) need Ammonium Sulfate to get an even color when immersion dyeing, so I did an experiment where I dyed 2-2oz pieces of 64 ct merino wool. I added AmmSulf first, then the dye, then the wool. Heated for 20 mins and the AmmSulf made the wool take up the dye slowly so it got an even coating. After 20 mins, I added Citric Acid (same use as vinegar) then the exhaust was quite fast. I cooled them outside the pot in Tupperware and didn't have any issues with felting. The temp was 180 degrees F in the pot.

Here's the final product after I spun out the water in the spin cycle of my washer.

The arrow is where I fluffed the wool out sideways a little after being spun out. You can see how the wool gets compressed.

Before/After fluffing out:

For the purple I didn't mix the dye well (should have been brown but I left some of the dye still in the mix tub - this is what happens when you try to mix too fast - shame on me), but it did come out even, so that was successful.

I'll try to take better photos with my good lights later.

Oh I hear you, that's for sure - lol!  My DH just groans when he sees me pull my phone out to take pictures. He doesn't even wait anymore, but keeps walking.  I got my phone at the end of Sept. and the 16Gb is almost full - of pictures - and that is after I deleted a ton of them.  And it is the pictures taking up the space, as I have no room for music.  It's good to know we are not alone and are in the right place!  I took about a billion pictures of these lights at a restaurant we ate at in Charleston a few weeks ago.  I loved the color, shape, texture and composition of them.  I had a hard time choosing which picture I wanted to post here - lol.  Very interesting experiment!  So are you saying you used Ammonium Sulfate with no other mordant?  Hmmm, I've not heard of doing that before.  I know cream of tartar is supposed to help with the eveness of dyeing when used with alum and tin mordants.  And did you add the citric acid after the ammonium sulfate, or was this in place of the ammonium sulfate?  But now I'm wondering if you used an acid dye here?  So then you wouldn't need the mordant, only the citric acid.  Now I think I see where you are coming from.  This sounds pretty neat.  I'm looking forward to reading your blog on this. 

ps.  i love these colors, so rich and vibrant!

sorry for the delayed reply - we've had a friend in from OHIO these past few days so we've been taking him around. he's never been to Calif before so we were thrilled to spend time with him and see our city through his eyes :)

Yes, i used both ammonium sulfate and citric acid, but not at the same time. the pre-soak only had hot tap water and dawn detergent. i heated the water in the kettle, added the dye solution then the ammonium sulfate, then the wool. after 20 mins i added the citric acid and heated for another 10 mins.  OH - i forgot that i used the instructions from Dharma's website. they did a very interesting experiment using wool yarn and their acid dyes, amm.sulf and citric acid.

i LOVE your photo! what a great chandelier - your composition is wonderful ;) very artsy! that would be a fun colorway to create too!

Christina, when you added the cirtic acid,  did you lift your fiber out of the pot, add the citric acid, stir, put the fiber back in? or how? I'm so excited reading your experiment. I may change from Cushing to Jacquard dye for Immersion dyeing after reading all this.

Well I hope your friend is having a wonderful time there.  Let him know he missed an awfully hot week here, most of the trees are in bloom and some have actually lost their beautiful flowers.  Crazy! 

When I first was reading your post, I was thinking you were using natural dyes, thus my confusion.  Then after re-reading it, I had an ah-ha moment, and realized you must have been talking about acid dyes.  I just wasn't sure.  This should be a fun thing to play around with in the future.  Yesterday I went  to Market Day that the spinning guild I belong to puts one, (did your MIL go?  It was in BG.)  I bought some more Jacquard dyes and was talking to a vendor about trying to achieve different colors.  That was interesting.  Wish I had more knowledge on color.  (Another thing to go learn about - lol). 

I will go check out the instructions you linked to.  Thanks!

And thanks for the positive remarks on the photo, it is one of my favorites from this trip. :o)  Thank goodness there weren't many people in the restaurant at the time, as I was lying down on the bench seat taking tons of photos - my girls and DH were embarassed - lol!  As for the colorway, that was one of the reasons I took it - I was thinking of you and your amazing colorways while I was taking these photos.  You should try it.  I hope to get around to trying it out sometime soon myself. 


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