Painting wool yarn?
  • I am just starting to learn to dye yarn - and um... well I am a control freak sometimes :)

    I like the idea of painting it where I can get very specific on where the colors do and do NOT go. I bought fuschia, yellow, blue, black and grey acid dyes and some superclear and used them tonight. I didn't know about steaming so I got it all painted on and stuck it into a pot of water (as per some instructions I bought on the internet). Of course the dyes bled into the water and eachother :( What is the best way to do this. I see people referencing steaming and microwaving. Also is the superclear the best way to do it? Should I be using one of the alginate products - if so which one?

    I have a 50 lb bag of urea in my kitchen from the local feedstore that another online source said I needed to soak my yarn in...? LOL! Glad I found your site - why didn't I just try to go straight to the source in the first place? LOL!

    OH yeah - and is there a mixing chart on how to make more colors from these basic ones - I figured out a few. But I want to make things like sienna, peach, salmon, apricot, etc.

    Thanks in advance for your help :)
  • Which dyes are you using, exactly? Are they the Jacquard acid dyes? Just wanting to make sure we're talking about the same thing.

    Before you try using alginate or superclear, just try to see what happens when you steam the yarns, instead of immersing them. There are recipes for alginate, but I don't see why Superclear wouldn't work.

    At its simplest, steaming wool yarn doesn't have to be difficult at all. Wrap the yarn up in paper, then cook it in a covered pot over boiling water for half an hour. Don't let the pot boil dry. I think there should be a recipe for this somewhere on the Jacquard site.

    Urea is used to keep fiber reactive dyes moist during an extended dye reaction. You don't need to use it with acid dyes.

  • Yes - using acid dyes. What kind of paper do I use?

    What is best to thicken into a paint to control bleed?

    Thanks :)
  • Dyers usually use newsprint for steaming. You can't use fresh newspapers, because the ink will rub onto your work. You can buy unprinted newsprint paper at an art supply store or from a dye seller. You can also save your old newspapers for use later on, as, if I recall correctly, six months of aging will remove the risk of smearing ink. (Need to confirm whether or not that is a fact before using it.)

    Before wrapping your yarn in paper for dyeing, you have to let it dry. This will help encourage your dyes to bleed less.

    You might not need to use any thickener at all to control bleeding, if you use this method. It would be a good idea to try it without any thickener at all first, just so you know what happens. If you do use a thickener, it would make most sense to follow a reliable recipe made specifically for the dyes you are using, such as the Jacquard Products recipe for painting with acid dyes.

  • Thanks! I saw that recipe but it doesn't say either product is for wool - I wasn't sure if the one for silk was best since they are both protein fiber?
  • Hi Melissa,

    Although the instructions (for painting with Acid Dyes) does not mention wool it will work just fine. As you said, they are both protein fibres.

  • How long do I let it dry on the yarn before steaming - totally dry? And is there a color mixing chart somewhere for acid dyes?
  • Hi Melissa,

    Yes, go ahead and let them dry all the way and then steam. Sorry to say that we don't have a mixing chart for the Acid Dyes available at the moment. We have had several requests for one--we may need to put that higher up on our project list.

  • yes, please do develop a dye mixing chart for your acid dyes - it would be immensely useful to us. Jana
  • Oh please please develop a mixing chart for the acid dyes! I'm just starting to dye wool also and this would be incredibly helpful! I did order the color wheel but am having problems deciphering it LOL
  • I have dyed my wool fibers with Colorhue Dyes ( which are made for silk specifically but they work on wool too since it is also protein. You can blend colors and you dilute with water and either paint on, dunk, or spray on. No need to "fix" with any steam, chemicals, or heat. They bond instantly.
  • I know those are described as dyes, but I have never seen any real evidence anywhere that they are not actually fabric paints, instead of dyes.

  • When I a paint my yarns, I wrap in saran wrap before steaming. I don't let it dry, and it works well.