dyeing blends of wool with either bamboo viscose or Tencel
  • I have been asked to dye some sock yarns which are superwash merino 80%, and either 20% Tencel or 20% bamboo (presumably viscose) -- that is, some of both kinds of blend. From what I understand, the latter fibers could be dyed with my Jacquard Procion with soda ash as fixer, but the soda ash would damage the wool (acc. to the excellent pburch site here http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/proteindyes.shtml :
    "To dye wool, you must avoid the high pH of the soda ash recipes used to dye cotton. Most wool-dyeing recipes call for an acid such as acetic acid, white vinegar (which naturally contains acetic acid), or citric acid.")

    So I take it that using soda ash is out, and I'd have to use heat and acid. Well, I could use my Jacquard Procion to dye the wool as per the instructions here with salt and acid in a hot bath: http://www.jacquardproducts.com/products/dyes/procionmx/instructions1.php or I could use my Jacquard acid dye with acid and heat -- but then it probably wouldn't take in the other fibers, right? With only 20% of the cellulose-based fibers, this might not be a problem, and I realize that the mixed effect might be attractive to some, but is there any procedure for using either or both kinds of dyes in a way that will cause the dye to take in both fibers, without damage to either fiber?

    I plan to experiment but thought I'd ask the experts first.
  • Two options.

    One, cellulose will take Procion MX dyes at a pH of 9, and even to some extent at a pH of 8, though not nearly as efficiently as at the optimal pH of 10.5. It won't work at all at a pH below 8. Wool should do fine at a pH of 8 and (test this first!) probably a pH of 9. So, if you're careful to keep other conditions ideal, using a nice warm temperature between 95°F and 105°F and a lot of dye, plus salt if you're using high-water ratio immersion, you can dye your cellulose fiber without damaging your wool. You may waste some dye, but that's better than damaging your wool.

    Two, this is exactly what all-purpose dye (a mixture of acid dye and direct dye) does best. You could probably even use a direct dye, such as iDye, at the same time as your acid dye, in the same dyebath. Direct dyes and all-purpose dyes are inevitably poorly washfast, but you can solve that with an after-treatment of Retayne or iDye Fixative.

  • Thanks much, Paula!

    By the way, here's another topic I searched on but couldn't find an answer: For the acid dyes on wool, I assume that one could use lemon juice instead of citric acid or vinegar, right? What proportion of juice to water would you recommend?

    Second, I mixed up some cherry red acid dye and it wasn't dissolving well so I warmed it in a water bath on the stove, but it turned to an inconsistent gel. What did I do wrong?

    Next, I mixed up some sun yellow, and it was a nice darkish clear yellow solution, but the next day I came back and it had turned opaque, with flecks. Is this normal?

    Finally, will the dyes store better in premixed form if the acid is added first, or if one does not add the acid until ready to use?

    Thanks for your time!
  • I wouldn't use lemon juice as an auxiliary chemical for dyeing, if I had access to vinegar or citric acid. Lemon juice contains a lot of other stuff besides citric acid, such as potassium, ascorbic acid, sugars, pectin, etc. It's also tremendously more expensive than distilled vinegar or synthetic citric acid. That's why so many "lemonade flavor" drinks contain synthetic citric acid instead of real lemon juice.

    To dissolve acid dyes, you can use boiling water. Never use boiling water to dissolve fiber reactive dyes, but it's fine for acid dyes. Your sun yellow acid dye had probably cooled off; the specks were most likely solid dye which had precipitated out of solution. Warm it up and you should be able to dissolve it again.

    Don't add acid directly to your dyes. Add the dissolved dye to softened water to make a dyebath, add your pre-wetted fiber to the dyebath, let the dye penetrate the fiber evenly while heating the dyebath, and only then add the acid.

  • "Don't add acid directly to your dyes."

    But I'm doing handpainting of skeins, not a dyebath. So is it ok to add the acid to the small portion of dye I'm going to paint with (I've tested this on small pieces and it seems ok so far), or is it for some reason better to put the acid in the water that I pre-soak the skeins in? If so, why?

    I've also heard of people painting the yarn, then misting it with a blend of water and acid before steaming it. It seems to me you'd get uneven effects that way, so I've not tried it.

    Thanks again!
  • I have just space dyed some merino wool tops with jacquard acid dyes after soaking them with a mixture of half vinegar and half water for 12 hrs. They turned out beautifully.