Tag Archives: shawls

Dyed silk yarn

Dyed skeins of silk hanging to dry.

I decided I wanted some special silk yarn to weave a couple of shawls.  I skeined off some undyed tussah style silk into 2 skeins approx. 9 and 11 oz. each.   The 11 oz. skein I soaked in  a tablespoon of citric acid crystals dissolved in approx. 2 qts. of water (stainless steel pan), then squeezed out the excess liquid.  I put less than a teaspoon of turqouise Jacquard acid dye into the pan and stirred and then put the soaked skein back in and with rubber gloves on, gently squeezed the dye all through – there wasn’t much liquid left in the pan. Then I dissolved about a teaspoon of purple Jacquard acid dye in a plastic cup of warm water and poured it in separate areas of the (now) aqua skein.  I squeezed the dye into the skein to get the colour through to the bottom.  Again, there was very little dyewater in the bottom of the pan, since it all soaked into the yarn.

I use a small microwave for dying (no food prep) – when I’m not heating the weaving studio with the woodstove.  I have a covered Pyrex-type casserole dish used only for this purpose as well.  I put the dyed skein into the dish, covered it and nuked it for a minute on high, then 3 minutes on medium. I let it rest in between.  I nuke it a few minutes at a time on medium until I can tell it’s just below 180 degrees (use a candy thermometer – naturally don’t use it for any food purposes after putting it in dye). Leave it in the microwave for another 20 minutes, or put it on a heat resistant surface, covered with towels to keep the heat in. Let it cool to room temp – carefully rinse it in plain water. To get most of the water out of the skein, I put it into my washing machine (top loader) and set it on delicate spin. When removing the skein, I have to be careful so the threads don’t get caught on the fins at the bottom of the machine, but this trick does remove a lot of excess water.

With the other skein I used light blue for the main colour, and the same purple for the accent, but I did more accents than with the aqua.  After the skeins were dry – I coned them off, and wove them on 22″ shawl warp.  The warp has silk, bamboo, cotton, and rayon yarns in various colours, textures, and weights. I do hemstitching at each end rather than knotting the fringe.  I wove 80″ and it came down to about 74″ after washing. 

Completed shawls with their cones of dyed silk on the weaving loom.

As you can see, I have enough of each colour to make another shawl, or some scarves.  I had so much fun doing this, that I proceeded to dye/paint some cotton/rayon, and then solid colour some bamboo.  I have more silk, and more bamboo skeined off – just have to find the time to dye them!!  For really good info on dying and whole lot of dyes and just really good “stuff” for fibre artists go to dharmatrading.com. I use this technique for dying small amounts (up to 2 yards) of 10 mm silk fabric that I use to line the pockets of my jackets.