Bleeding with Jacquard Acid Dyes on Superwash Yarn
  • Hi! We've been using Jacquard Acid Dyes to dye Superwash Merino wool yarn. It's come to our attention that despite the water looking clear in the dye pot, that several of our colors are bleeding. We have soaked the dry, finished yarn in both hot and cold water to see what kind of dye loss we have, and in some cases it's terrible. We need help, ASAP! Here are a few observations and information that might help:

    1. We soak the yarn in water, but it's cold in our studio, so the water is usually cold by the time we squeeze out the yarn.
    2. We mix the dye with hot water, and then pour it into gallon jugs. These gallon jugs are cool and sometimes a day old.
    3. We pour the diluted dye into 5 gallon buckets of cold or tepid water, stir, and then add the yarn.
    4. We swish the yarn up and down in order to get an even distribution of color, prior to adding vinegar (500ml per bucket)
    5. We allow the yarn to sit until the water is clear (usually overnight).
    6. We cook the yarn in kettles, bringing them up to temp slowly, then simmering for 20 minutes. We then allow it to cool to room temperature before spinning it out.

    Some strange observations:

    A. Adding more vinegar to the kettle when we cook it doesn't help.
    B. The quantity of dye is well within the acceptable ratio of dye to lbs. of wool.
    C. We have been using your dyes in the same dilutions to dye fiber with great results and colorfastness.
    D. When we soak the yarn in hot water, the water turns bright with dye. But if we let it sit 15 minutes or so, the yarn re-absorbs the dye.
    C. When we rinse it in warm water, each subsequent rinse has a GREATER amount of dye in it. The more we wash it, the more dye comes out!
    D. We are having trouble with Turquoise and Fuchsia in particular, though other colors are bleeding as well.

    Please help! We've tried cooking the yarn for a good 30-40 minutes, with no improvement in bleeding. I'm thinking it has something to do with the Superwash process, but I'm not sure how to solve the problem, and achieve colorfast, saturated results.

    Thank you so much!

  • Hi M,

    Well, first thing I did was a little research on the Superwash process and that may be exactly what the problem is.
    According to what I read, in order to make a wool washable the yarns/fibers are either scoured with an acid that removes the scales on the wool and/or treated with a polymer or resin. If the yarn you are working with now has been treated with a polymer or resin the dye isn't able to fix to the fiber.
    I think the reason you are getting any uptake at all is because the dye does have an affinity to the wool and 'wants' to become one with the wool, or maybe the wool is acting like a big sponge and collecting the dyes as they fall out of solution (as Acid dye sometimes do as they cool), but once you begin to rinse (especially with the warm water) the dye just can't hold onto those poly or resin coated fibers.

    I did want to say, I've not come across your method of dyeing - soaking the fiber in a cool dye bath until the water goes clear and then bringing the whole pot up to temp. I'm curious why that method rather than go straight to cooking after the step 4 swishing?

    At any rate, hope my info helps and don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions.

  • Thanks so much for writing Annette... I posted this late at night and I'm thrilled to see your reply so soon! We're using that method in order to get the color saturation we need while keeping it from being splotchy. Perhaps if we cooked it immediately after swishing (and even moved it to a new pot so any excess dye remained behind) we'd have better luck. I'll try that today and get back to you as soon as I do it. I'm headed to the studio right now (snow day... late start).

    That being said, I don't think it'll work because we've direct dyed one particularly troublesome color (hot fuchsia) and it bleeds like crazy. We've tried extra vinegar, boiling it for a full hour... you name it. Nothing works. And we're using a fraction of the dye that your chemists told us was OK.

    We can't give up on this base (it's a product line that is very popular) so we have to find a way to make this work... Everything you're saying about the nature of the superwash process makes sense to me. I think it is doing exactly that: Acting like a sponge, but not adhering. We are thinking we might try adding a fixative like Retayne... do you know if that would work?

    Gaaaaa! So worried...

    Thanks so much.


  • So I tried cooking after swishing and no improvement. However, I just did a pot of a brilliant orchid (prochem) based color that is super saturated and it rinsed completely clear in super hot water. Like, COMPLETELY clear. I'm thinking maybe we ditch any Fuchsia and Turquoise based recipes and swap them out for other colors to achieve the same effect. Do you have a list of which turquoise or fuchsia -like dyes are MOST colorfast? Also, aren't Prochem and Jacquard from the same company? Thanks!

  • hummm, just to be clear, you used the brilliant orchid from Prochem on the superwash yarn?
    I'm a little stumped as to what is going on with the Fuchsia and Turquoise if that is the case. They are both mid-range for wash fastness so I'm not sure just what is going on here. I'm going to put this question to our chemist, see what he has to say. I may suggest a direct conversation with him, but will talk to him first...hate to see you have to dump recipes that are good sellers for you.
    We do carry a line of Super Fast Acid Dyes specifically for use with wools, unfortunately we don't have the two colors you are working with here. The Retayne could help here, again, want to check with our chemist.
    And to your question regarding Prochem and Jacquard, we are two separate companies, not affiliated with each other at all.
    I should be able to talk with our chemist tomorrow and will post as soon as I get some more info.

  • Hi M,

    Spoke with our chemist, this is what he had to say:
    A few things could be going on here.

    1. One does not want to let the water cool with the sub-straight in it. This will cause the dye solution to fall and one will end up with undisolved dye particle IN THE YARN. It will take a million washes to get it out.

    2. Good find on the possible poly coat of the yarn. Definitely suspect.

    3. I suggest that they try using our idye fixative (JID1300 I believe) as a post treatment. This almost always fixes this issue.

    He also said he's been getting a number of calls regarding Merino and plans to do some testing in house on that.

    Hope this helps,
  • Hi M,

    Our chemist also suggested you give him a call, so often it is easier to nail a problem over the phone.
    You can reach him at 800 442 0455 - Monte Weatherby is his name.