Dyeing yarn part 2: The full process of dyeing with acid dye


This is a series of 3 parts, the first part can be read here: Dyeing yarn part 1: Getting started with acid dyeing and the third here: Dyeing part 3: The results of dyeing with acid dye

Next step was to plan the dyeing. I wanted to test all base colors first, namely red, blue and yellow for each type of yarn. The colors are all miscible and I also wanted purple and green.

In the pot I mixed water, vineager, sodium sulfate, and dye powder to get a color strength of 3%, which was written to be maximum what the wool yarn could absorb. I wanted very saturated colors in my first attempts.

To help me with the amounts I created an excel sheet that calculated amounts based on the weight of the yarn I used, normally around 15 grams. I took 2 of each yarn type, since I wanted to see the difference when they were in the dye bath in 30 and 60 minutes. It was very difficult to measure the weight of the dye powder since I was dyeing so little yarn each time, but I found a good gram-to-milliliter converter on Färgkraft's homepage.

To distinguish the yarn types from each other after 30 minutes I tied knots, 1 knot for the wool/nettle mix, 2 knots for the gray and so on.

weight yarn

First I wanted to test the red dye. I soaked the yarn in water before I put it in the pot with the dye bath. The dye bath should be 60 degrees when the yarn was put in it, but since I didn't have a thermometer, I don't know exactly what temperature it had.


red pot It was very exciting! After 30 minutes I took out one of each yarn type. red washed

After 60 minutes, I took out the rest. I think the yarn got a little stressed by the fast temperature changes. I did some changes in the process for the rest of the colors. After cooling, I put it with detergent for 15 minutes.

red four This is the wet result. Here we can see four different shades of red. The different shades are from the different precolour the yarn had (two white, salmon, grey and blue in this case).

red I hung the yarn on a hanger to dry. Then I started with the next batch. This time I took blue. As I wrote before, the red yarn got a bit stressed from fast temperature changes (it got burled). Therefore, I let the yarn in the dye bath at a much cooler temperature than 60 degrees and I let it cool in its warm dye bath after it was done.

blue washed Blue yarn being washed.

blue-red-window After washing the yarn I hung it next to the red yarn. The colours are truly amazing! blue red Close up. Really love the shades I get from using different precolours.

Finally I tried the yellow colour. It is a very strong, redish yellow that I liked a lot. yellow pot The yarn in the dye bath. I was very worried about the precolours mixed with yellow, I did not have high hopes at all.

blue yellow red Here all three batches are hanging to dry, and I think they look great! I am very pleased with the end-result.

I could see a difference between the yarn being soaked for 30 minutes and for 60 minutes, and I like the look on the 60 minutes batches better. It had a more even colour. Therefore I let the rest of the batches lay in the bath for 60 minutes.

At this time it was really late and time for bed. I was so tired. But also addicted. No way I was going to stop now.

Next up was an experiment (perfect timing to test something new when you can't keep your eyes open). I wanted to speed up the process, and made 3 batches of dye bath and mixed red+yellow, red+blue, blue+yellow. Then I put the dye baths and yarn in the oven at 90 degrees and went to take a "power nap" that lasted until 04.30 but I woke up to check the oven every 30 minutes. experiement washed Here the three batches are being washed. The green is darker than I wanted and I didn't really see any big difference from blue and blue+red. The blue powder was simply a lot stronger than I thought and took over the other colors. The orange is nice but rather red. experiment hangingexperiment closeup Here are the result when drying.

Experimenting with using the oven is nothing I recommend, it took too long to warm up. I am sure someone can come up with a better methodology than my tired brain could, like heating the dye baths on the stove first and then keeping it warm in the oven like Eva suggested the next day... I also read some people use the micro-oven. I think for me, I will rather buy several, smaller pots for future dyeing sessions if I want to dye with more colors at the same time.

Next day I wanted revenge on the green and purple. I was much more careful with the blue powder.

purple 30 Purple dye bath after 30 minutes.

purple 60 Purple dye bath after 60 minutes.

The purple turned out great, exactly how I wanted it to be. Unfortunately, the green turned out almost the same as the dark green the night before. I did one last try on the green and reduced the colour strength to 1.5%. The result was a lot more as I wanted, but perhaps a bit too light. Next time I will experiment more with green. It is very interesting and rewarding to learn what proportions is behind the colours that we love so much.

The final results can be seen in the last part of this blog series about acid dyeing. Be sure to check it when it gets published.

Hope you like these type of longer blog posts! They are really fun to write.