Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to hand paint yarn

How to Handpaint yarn

1. Materials needed:
a. 100% wool yarn (or any real animal fiber yarn, e.g. angora, alpaca). Don’t use yarn that is part acrylic, polyester or synthetic material—it will not dye correctly. Use enough for your whole project and a little test skein to use to see if your handpainted yarn color is set.
b. Acid based fiber dyes. I use One Shot dyes from the Prochem company, as they don’t need any other mordants. You can also use Washfast acid dyes, but will need to add Glauber’s salt and potassium sulfate, or something similar to the dye bath. Use good quality commercial grade dyes that are made for animal fibers.
c. Synthrapol, or dish washing liquid soap to pre-soak the handpainted yarn and wash after dyeing.
d. Water, several plastic buckets, preferably white
e. Stove with timer, electric or gas
f. Protective rubber gloves, goggles, heavy apron, newspaper or plastic drop cloths to protect your work area and floor.
g. Several small containers for mixing dye. Containers can be glass, plastic, or stainless steel. Must be able to withstand boiling water without cracking or melting.
h. Several small sponge brushes to hand paint yarn—the kind used for house painting or staining.
i. Heavy duty stainless or enamel tub with a lid for dyeing. I use a rectangular turkey roaster. It is optimal if you can use a white enamel tub, as it is easier to see the color of the hand painted yarn.
j. Metal rack or steam tray to hold the yarn in the tub above the water for steaming
k. Large white heavy duty plastic trash bags, white cotton string or large rubber bands
2. Wind your undyed wool yarn into skeins. You can use a niddy-noddy, or else you can wind it around a chair. Tie it loosely in at least four places, so that it will not get tangled. Be sure to have enough wool yarn for your project, as it is hard to duplicate handpainted yarns. Include a small test skein as well.
3. Soak undyed wool yarn in a bucket or tub of water with about half a teaspoon of Synthrapol, or dish soap. This will remove grease or spinning oil from the yarn, and open the fibers to accept the dye. Soak for at least thirty minutes.
4. Mix acid protein fiber dye in small containers, according to manufacturer’s instructions. I usually put about an half teaspoon of dye crystals in about one cup of boiling water, stirring well until all of the crystals are fully dissolved.
5. Gently squeeze water out of washed wool yarn. Lay the damp skein on plastic trash bags. Using sponge brushes soaked in your dye solution, paint the wool yarn skeins according to your imagination. You may need to press the brush down hard to make sure that the dye penetrates all the layers of yarn.
6. Roll the handpainted wool yarn in the plastic trash bag, jelly-roll style. Tie the rolled bags/hand painted yarn tightly in several places with string or rubber bands.
7. Fill the bottom of your roasting pan or steaming pot with enough water that it won’t all boil away, but not enough that it covers your steaming rack or tray.—Don’t let the water touch the bag with the yarn. Bring the water to a boil, with the steaming rack or tray in place. Put the plastic bag with the yarn in the rack (be sure you are not scalded by the steam), and then place the lid on the pot, turn the stove down to about medium and let it steam for about 40 minutes. Check periodically to make sure your water has not boiled away.
8. After forty minutes, turn off the stove and let the yarn cool to room temperature. (I usually leave it over night.)
9. Unwrap the hand painted wool yarn. Dip your test skein in a bucket of room temperature water to see if the dye bleeds away, or if it is fast. If the skein bleeds, roll the handpainted yarn back up in the bag repeat heating process for the yarn. (Sometimes it will only bleed a little if too much dye was used) .The main thing to be sure is that the fiber dye is absolutely set. Some protein acid fiber dye colors (often red or violet) take longer to set, so check to make sure these are not bleeding). You must make sure that your dyes set.
10. If the protein acid dyes have set properly, and the skein does not bleed, wash the hand painted wool yarn cold water with Synthrapol or wool wash liquid, as for any fine woolen garment. Rinse cold and hang washed, rinsed handpainted yarn to dry.