Monday, March 1, 2010


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

The dyes I use for silk (and wool) are Lanaset dyes, also called Sabraset dyes.  These dyes, technically, are not acid dyes at all. But they do use acid for their dyeing agent and they do function much like acid dyes.  Among professional dyes these are considered to be the best dyes for silk and wool because of their brilliant color, their ability to dye fiber evenly, and because of their light fastness. So, for all practical purposes, they are considered an acid dye.
I have been dyeing the needed warp yarn along with more weft yarn.  All in all, I had 4 skeins in quart Mason jars divided between two stock pots of hot water.

One of the pots was wider than the others.  And the pots had differing amounts of mason jars in them.  The problem in this situation, for me, is how to keep the water slowly raising, in both pots, from 120 degrees to 180-plus degrees over the period of one hour, a process required by the Lanaset/Sabraset dyes.

The particular problem here is that with the two different size pots and the differing number of jars, it is difficult to get the water in the two pots to rise in temperature at the same rate. 

There are other variables as well.  The two burners, though the largest on my stove, are slightly different in the strength of heat they produce.  And, while both stocks are (cheap) stainless steel, they are probably slightly different in such things as thickness.

I do use a gas stove, by the way.  I used to be stuck with an electric range.  I liked it neither for cooking nor dyeing.  A gas range is much much easier to regulate for both cooking and dyeing.
The ideal rate for the temperature to rise is one degree per minute, but I am not overly obsessive about this.  I simply use it as a guide.

But what I did learn today is that once the water in the pot (not in the mason jars) gets to just below a simmer, it is not hard to keep the temperature rising at the same time.
I measure the temperature, by the way, with a thermometer placed on one of the mason jars, one in each pot.

There is other tricky part. After the first hour is up and the water has been raised to 180+ degrees, I need to keep the water at that temperature degrees for the next hour.  If I have done a good job at slowly raising the water, usually where the burner dial is set at the end of the first hour will do the job, though for the first ten minutes I check it frequently.  After that, unless I have done a really really rotten job(!), I can pretty much just let the pots sit and go about the rest of my life.

Heating the Water in Acid Dyeing” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on March 1, 2010. ©2010 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina.



I'd like to understand this you put mason jars in a stock pot and boil the water, do you put the yarn with the color in each mason jar or just the color and water? Can you tell I've never dyed a damn thing? I can't wait to see what colors your choosing for your weaving.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Deep End, I put water in the stock pot. Then I put in the mason jars. First I add the auxiliaries, then the yarn. Heat for 10 minutes. Then I remove the yarn, add the dye solution, put the yarn back in and proceed to dye. What I am doing is creating a hot water bath. This does two things. It keeps the yarn from scorching at the bottom of the pot. And it allows me to dye more than one color at a time as I can put multiple Mason jars in the stock pots.

Dorothy said...

I quite agree about gas being much easier to control! I'm stuck with just electric for the moment. Another thing that has caused problems (in addition to the electric ring cycling on and off) is if I have a window open and there is air movement. I have been surprised to find this makes it difficult to maintain steady temperature in the dyebath.

Thanks for writing about your dyeing technique. I'm working towards hand dyed - handspun - handwoven, but there's so much to learn!

Peg in South Carolina said...

Thank you for your comments, Dorothy. One thing that I have found: the more water in the dye bath (or in the water bath in which jars are place), the easier it is to maintain the temperature.