How to use FibreDYE acid milling dyes January 16 2016

Updated October 2019

The tips and guides below are for your guidance only and assume that you understand why wool felts and how to identify protein (animal) fibres. Results can also vary with local water conditions, fibre quality, temperature and other variables. Always test first especially where the results are more critical.

Use the following guides at your own risk and read the "Safety in Use Recommendations" (pdf)

 

What type of dye is FibreDYE?

FibreDYE is an acid milling dye in powdered form designed for use with protein (animal) fibres such as wool, silk, angora etc. You can use cleaned fleece, natural fibre tops, undyed yarn etc. There are 16 colours including black which you can inter-mix to produce unlimited colourways plus a citric acid fixative.

How much dye will I need?

The amount of dye required will always depend on the dry weight of fibre to be dyed. If the weight of the fibre increases, the weight of the dye increases proportionally to achieve the same dye shade. If you have too much dye to the weight of the fibre, it will not exhaust (be fully absorbed by the fibre).

First prepare a 1% liquid dye stock by mixing of 10g of FibreDYE powder in 1 litre of water. You can then calculate how much of this stock should be added to your dye bath (depending on the dry weight of the fibre) to achieve the desired shade.

Fibre weight (dry)

Dye bath water

Pastel shade

Medium shade

Heavy shade

100g

Enough to cover well

100ml of 1% dye  stock

200ml of 1% dye stock

300ml of 1% dye stock

500g

Enough to cover well

500ml of 1% dye stock

1litre of 1% dye stock

1.5 litres of 1% dye stock

How do I make up a 1% dye stock?

The following will make a 1% dye stock ready to be added to the dye bath or kept in an airtight container until you are ready to use it.

  1. Put 10g of FibreDYE into a jug and add a little hot water and mix.
  2. Add 500ml of hot water and mix thoroughly until all of the dye is dissolved.
  3. Now fill up to 1 litre with cold water and mix. You now have 1 litre of 1% strength dye stock.

How are these dyes fixed?

FibreDYE fixes to the wool fibres when you apply heated acidic water. For every 100g of fibre add 5g (1tsp) of citric acid (or a good glug - 100ml of white vinegar) to the dye bath water to achieve a pH of around 3 to 4. The heat needs to applied for around 15 minutes at a very gentle simmer (95C - 100C). (Don't boil it to death!)

How can I check the acidity of my dye bath?

You can use litmus paper to check the pH level (acidity) of your dye bath. Simply dip a test strip in the water and watch it change colour. Match that colour on the chart supplied to read the pH level. You should be aiming for a reading of 3 to 4.

Should I soak the fibre first?

It is good practice to give your fibre or yarn a good long soak then gently remove the excess water before you start. Sheep fleece should be thoroughly cleaned and de-greased with a good scour.

    How do I know if the dye has set?

    Generally speaking after dyeing the water in your dye bath should be clear indicating that all of the FibreDYE has been exhausted (fixed to the wool fbre)

    How can I get stronger colours?

    Either use more FibreDYE stock per 100g of fbre (dry weight) or begin by making up a stronger dye stock in the first place (ie: 2% or even 3%).

    Can I over dye to hide stains?

    You can over dye time and time again with mixed results but really only from light to progressively darker shades - but our advice is not to bother trying to dye over stains to hide them as it rarely works satisfactorily.


    Techniques

    1: Dyeing on the cooker hob

    Here's a simple hob and cooking pot method. Weights shown are dry weights. Remember to pre soak your fibre before you begin.

    1. Mix 10g of FibreDYE with 1 litre of water to make a 1% dye stock.
    2. For every 100g of fibre add 5g (1tsp) of citric acid (or a good glug - 100ml of white vinegar) to the dye bath water to achieve a pH of around 3 to 4.
    3. For each 100g of fibre add about 200ml of the prepared 1% dye stock to the dye bath.
    4. Now add the fibre to the dye bath and gently submerge.
    5. Slowly raise the temperature to boiling point (95C -100C) and simmer for approx 15 minutes. When all the dye has exhausted the water will be clear.
    6. Allow it to cool nice and slowly.
    7. Carefuly rinse and spin or drip dry.

     

      2: Dyeing in the microwave

      Here's a simple microwave method suitable for dyeing 100g (dry weight) of fibre at a time. Remember to pre soak your fibre before you begin.

      1. Pour a small amount of the 1% dye stock into a smaller container (ramekin dishes or large yoghurt pots are ideal). Use 2 - 5 colours or mix new ones!  Add citric acid to achieve a PH of 4 to 5
      2. Place the damp fibre onto a sheet of plastic cling film and lay out.
      3. Using a plastic syringe or dropper bottle add some of the dye stock to a portion of fibre. Add sufficient dye to almost saturate the fibre but avoid adding  too much as the excess will drain onto the cling film.
      4. Repeat using different colours until the fibre is covered. You can either overlap colours when going from one colour to the next or leave a small section of fibre uncovered... it's up to you!
      5. Roll the fibre in the cling film sealing the long edge but leaving the ends open. Place into a small plastic bag (optional) and then onto a microwave suitable dish with a lid - a glass casserole dish is ideal.
      6. Heat at a minimum setting for 10 minutes.
      7. Allow to cool.
      8. Remove fibre then gently rinse and spin or drip dry.

      3: Dyeing in a steamer

      Here's a simple recipie suitable for dyeing 100g (dry weight) of fibre at a time. Remember to pre soak your fibre before you begin.

      1. Pour a small amount of the 1% dye stock into a smaller container (ramekin dishes or large yoghurt pots are ideal). Use 2 - 5 colours or mix new ones!  Add citric acid to achieve a PH of 4 to 5.
      2. Place the damp fibre onto a sheet of plastic cling film and lay out.
      3. Using a plastic syringe or dropper bottle add some of the dye solution to a portion of fibre.  Add sufficient dye to almost saturate the fibre but avoid adding too much as the excess will drain onto the cling film.
      4. Repeat using different colours until the fibre is covered.  You can either overlap colours when going from one colour to the next or leave a small section of fibre uncovered... It's up to you!
      5. Roll the fibre in the cling film sealing the long edge and tying the ends of the film in a knot. Place into a small plastic bag and seal with a knot.  
      6. Place into the steamer and steam for at least 45 minutes.
      7. Allow to cool.
      8. Remove fibre then gently rinse and spin or drip dry.

      Where can I learn more?

      Dyeing is great fun but it is really an art that requires knowledge and experience to achieve consistent results. Often it's the mistakes that produce the prettiest results so don't be afraid to experiment! There are plenty of helpful books plus lots of advice available on the internet.

       * We do not guarantee the result nor do we accept responsibility for the outcome of your dyeing. Dyeing is a craft requiring skill and experience and the colours and effects achieved will depend on many factors. Always test first especially where the results are more critical.

      Download "Safety in use recommendations" (pdf)