Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Dyeing alpaca

This post goes with the YST episode 108.

Awhile ago I got the dye pots out to try dyeing some alpaca. I had already washed and spun some of this alpaca fiber but there was quite a bit left. My thought was if I am going to get the fiber wet to wash it, I might as well then put it in a dye.

I give all the details of the process in the podcast.  I will give a few brief details here.

The alpaca didn't look it but was very dirty.  It took many wash and rinses before I was not seeing any dirt in the sink once I drained the water.  While going through that process, I got two dye pots made and heating on the stove.

I think this cactus bloom was the inspiration for my two dye pots:
For some reason my Christmas cactus decided to bloom this spring.  For the dye colors I picked a deeper version of green and maroon.

I used acid dyes, putting vinegar in the dye bath with the fiber. The pots were held on the heat just below boiling for 30 minutes, then I turned the heat off and let them sit there for about five hours. Then I removed the fiber, rinsed it several times, and let it dry.

This is the fiber before I picked it apart.
It was not easy to photograph, the pink is not really a hot pink, and the green is much darker.  I was really please with the dyeing.

I had some left over dye, not from the dye pots but from when I was mixing up samples of dye colors to decide what to use.  I had drum carded batts of this same alpaca, and I thought I'd see how it would work to wet the batts and pour the dye on them. I worked on Saran Wrap, laid out a batt, poured the dye and rolled the batt up in the wrap. I put it curled up into a glass pie plate, and then microwaved the packet very briefly.  The first batch did not work well, I forgot to add vinegar.  I did remember with the second batt and it took the color much better.

One batt each color and then one batt with both colors on it.  I like the very pastel affect, but doubt the yarn will show the color as much as the batts.  It was a fun experiment.  I have only used half of the fiber, so I may repeat the dye process one more time, as well as just wash more and card and spin it in it's natural color.  Then I can make a project with the three colors.