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Dyes for Wool and other animal fibers
Acid dyes are the most popular dyes used on wool, and comprise a very wide range of different dyes. These include food dyes, Metal Complex Acid Dyes, Washfast Acid dyes, Acid Leveling dyes, and One Shot dyes.
Natural dyes. Many natural dyes work very well on protein fibers, such as wool. Most will require a mordant, such as alum, copper, tin, or iron, so they are not necessarily more on-toxic than synthetic dyes.
Lanaset dyes. The longest lasting, most wash-resistant, richest of hand dyes available for dyeing wool in the US are the Lanaset dyes.
Vinyl sulfone dyes also known as Remazol dyes, are a type of fiber reacfive dye that is often used in silk painting. Unlike Procion MX dyes, they can be applied to wool under acid conditions as true fiber reactive dyes, rather than as acid dyes; see Vinyl Sulfone Fiber Reactive Dyes.
Vat Dyes, such as indigo, can also be used to dye wool and other protein fibers, but the recipe must be modified to avoid pHs high enough to damage the wool. See About Vat dyes
All purpose dyes can be used to dye protein fibers, because they include an acid dye in their mixture. See All Purpose Dyes. The color might be slightly different than expected, and the expense is higher than with other dyes.
Dying the fiber Now that your fiber is washed you may want to add some color. I like to use kool-aid for dye. It is safe and non toxic. It's all about playing with the colors. Kool-aid is fun right! If you don't want to chance it and PLAY then you should use another method. My kids love to help with this. Just watch them around the hot stove.
You will need
1: large soup pan or hot water canner
2: kool-aid in your colors
3: white vinegar (about a ¼ c per dye bath)
4: stirring utensil
5: washed fiber or yarn Take the pan and fill it with enough hot water to cover the amount of fiber you will be dyeing.
If you have a large fleece it may take more than one dye bath.
Add the vinegar to your pan of hot water. Add your packets of kool-aid and stir well. Kool-aid dye is very dramatic and bold. You will get what you see in the pan. IF you want a light color you will only need ½ a package. IF you want deep bold color it may take 5-6. I have found that pink, red, orange will dye very quickly and don't take much. The purple, yellow, green take a little more. The blue is the hardest to obtain and takes up to 6 packages to get a nice blue color. I use berry blue flavor and get a medium shade. I don't think you can get a deep blue with this method but all the other colors do fine.
You will have to try it on a small amount to be sure if it's the color you want. Now that you have the kool-aid, vinegar, and water in the pan you will need to warm it up. Turn your burner to medium high and place the dye bath on. We need to add the damp fiber to the pan now BEFORE it becomes very hot. IF your fiber is NOT damp already from washing you will need to place it in a sink full of warm water. Remember DO NOT AGITATE. Just submerge it and let soak for 5-10 min. We need the fiber to be wet so the dye will take evenly. Use your utensil to submerge the fiber/yarn completely in the dye bath. Your water should be steaming now. We are going to let it sit and keep heating until it begins to lightly boil. IF the boiling becomes heavy you will need to turn the heat down. REMEMBER we do not want to agitate the fiber. You will notice the color starting to fade from the water as the dye completely saturates the fiber. When the water becomes clear it is done. Now we just turn it off and let it cool to touch. When the fiber is cool enough to handle you will gently remove it from the bath. Gently squeeze the excess water out and place it on an old towel to pat dry. Drying the fiber Now that your fiber is washed/dyed we will need to dry it. To dry you will need to spread it out thinly on something suitable. Most people use a drying screen or rack. Others use sweater dryers. I prefer to use my front porch. Just remember to keep it from blowing away!