Dyeing Questions

I have some Baby Alpaca (OK, 16 balls of it) in my stash and I’d like to use it for smaller projects. It’s a classic natural white color so I thought dyeing it would be the way to go.
I’ve played around with Kool-Aid dyeing. It’s great — easy and safe — but the color choices are lacking.
I want to dye up a few balls in saturated purples and blacks. What kind of dye could I use? Can RIT dye be used? Their color chart shows a few good possibilities — black, black plum, aubergine, and purple.
If I use RIT dye, can I follow the microwave technique? I can’t dye it in a pot since I want to dye it multiple colors.
Since this is an experiement, I don’t want to order a bunch of stuff online. So, I’m hoping RIT or something else that’s readily available will do the trick.
I’m not an experienced dyer, so any and all opinions are greatly appreciated!

10 thoughts on “Dyeing Questions

  1. I may be wrong, but I think RIT is designed to work on plant fibers rather than animal fibers (cellulose instead of protein). Jackie would know; she took a UArts dyeing class last year.

  2. I wouldn’t use RIT dyes, I haven’t heard good reports. However why not try these two sources, Knitpicks.com as they have dyes specifically for animal fibers or contact the Manning in Pennsylvania and they can not only send you the dyes but possibly help you with some questions.
    Dyes & Dyeing Supplies. Halcyon Yarn offers quantity discounts on all the dyes we stock: order 8 or more jars of any type of dye and save 10%. …
    Also there are natural dyes and there is a store in NC something like Fiber Guild—help me out someone!
    Dharma Trading Company another resource
    Hope this helps
    Patty in cold Baltimore

  3. I would recommend Jacquard dyes, or any of the many available for protein fibers from Dharma Trading, which is probably the best source.
    My experience suggests that getting a true and colorfast black is close to impossible. And if you are looking for purple, you may wish to consider natural, vegetal dyeing with logwood. First you would need to mordant the wool — simmer in a bath with alum. Then make a dyebath by simmering logwood, then the wool. This is tremendous fun, and you can reuse the dyebath to make lighter shades in the same color family.
    Otherwise, for your first project, simply use an acid dye. Make sure that every utensil you use will not come into contact with food. I would never use Rit on something as precious as angora.

  4. From what I remember, Pearl on South St. has a good selection of high quality dyes on their 2nd floor. I’d go with something like that over RIT – and you won’t have to do mail order :) I wish I could sneak you into our fiber dyeing workshop at school!!

  5. I attended a guild meeting where one of the members was describing a dyeing method using Wilton Gel Dyes (the stuff used to tint cake icing). She would get a turkey pan, cover the bottom in a thin layer of shaving cream, spead the dye on top of that, lay the yarn on next, and cover the top with any remaining dye. Then she’d pop the whole thing in the oven. I think she set the oven at 350 degrees and let it cook for 30 minutes. She liked using shaving cream because it gave her a clean break between the colors instead of a muddy blending. The Wilton dyes do have black and violet in the pack.

  6. Hi Jody!
    Hey, I would be happy to send you a little envelope of a couple of different dye colors, if you would like to try out some ProChem dyes without purchasing 4 ounces (the minimum purchase amount) … email me if you’re interested, and we can discuss what colors you’re after, and what colors I have that might work. :-)

  7. re: wilton icing paste concentrates.
    I’ve picked up several jars of the stuff, but haven’t done any dyeing yet.
    You use household vinegar as a mordant, as you would with KoolAid.
    My plan is to take a bit of the dye paste, dilute it in vinegar, paint the yarn, wrap in plastic wrap or bags, and steam it – or in a pot on the stove, or in the microwave – as you would with KoolAid or Easter egg dye – until the dyebath is clear and all the dye has discharged.
    If you feel really extravagant – use vinegar in the boiling water – but neutralize it afterwards with baking soda before dumping the pot contents out.

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