I would like to find a cold method of dye suitable for fine wool fabric

Name: Kate



Ann Milner's book
The Ashford Book of Dyeingir?t=dyeblog-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B001OY118Q


The 7"x9.5" blue revised edition, dated 1998, is a very useful guide, but apparently there's a problem with a different edition. Look for ISBN 0-908704-88-7. 


Linda Knutson's book
Synthetic Dyes for Natural Fibersir?t=dyeblog-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0934026238


Country or region: Australia

Message: I would like to find a cold method of dye suitable to dye 3 metres of fine wool fabric. I would like to use the tray method of dyeing so that I can get a variation in colour. Are you able to help? many thanks. Kate

Let's start by talking about what "cold dyeing" means. It can be misleading. The word "cold", in the textile industry, does not mean temperatures that feel cold to your hand; it merely refers to temperatures below boiling. Batik Oetoro, near Newcastle NSW, sells "cold wool dyes" that can be applied at 50°C for pale shades, or 70°C to 75°C for darker shades (that's 122°F for pale shades and 158°F to 167°F for darker shades). I think that these are most likely a type of acid dyes that is more forgiving as to temperature than most other acid dyes. Most people consider 70°F water to be truly "hot"; it's not what any novice dyer would consider calling "cold", and yet it is "cold dyeing" according to the industry. There are no instructions listed for using this dye in direct application, unfortunately, so it may not be suitable for what you want to do, "tray dyeing" being a name for direct application of dye to slightly crumpled fabric.

The usual way to hand-dye wool yardage is by either immersing it in a heated dyebath, or by direct application at room temperature followed by thirty minutes of steaming, during which time the dyes to bond to the fiber. Temperatures close to the boiling point of water are best for forming bonds between acid dyes and wool. In two examples of the steam-set direct-application dyeing of wool, PRO Chemical and Dye, in the US, provides instructions for both "Rainbow Dyeing using Lanaset Dyes" [PDF] and "Direct Application on Wool and Silk using WashFast Acid Dyes[PDF]. Steam setting is very effective for many types of dye that require heat, but it is an extra step, and more trouble than room-temperature methods of dye setting.

If you're not interested in either immersion dyeing or in steam-setting your wool, there are other methods for applying heat. These methods may be less reliable than methods in which the temperature is carefully controlled; their success depends to a large extent on how much warmth you manage to add to the wool-dye reaction.

There are some "cold" dye application methods for wool using Procion MX dyes and other fiber reactive dyes that are more typically used on cotton. When these dyes are used on wool, an acid is substituted for the usual auxiliary chemical soda ash, whose high pH is damaging to wool; this substitution causes them to act as acid dyes, rather than as fiber reactive dyes. (See "Fiber reactive dyes on protein fibers".) This means that, like all other acid dyes, they really do perform better with added heat; the heat is helpful in forming acid dye bonds to the fiber. A recipe by PRO Chemical & Dye for warp painting wool [PDF] calls for Procion MX dyes plus an acid, but the fixing method involves merely covering the fabric, after applying the dye, with plastic, and leaving it in a warm room at 21°C (70°F) for 24 hours or longer. Unfortunately, at room temperature, color yield is apt to be poor in many cases. The recipe indicates, "The warmer the 'cure' temperature, the darker the final color", but room temperature is not warm enough for really great results. Another ProChem recipe, "Garbage Bag Dyeing with Wool using PRO MX Reactive Dyes",  which uses sodium bisulfite as an auxiliary chemical, clarifies that a black plastic bag works best, as long as the bag is not placed directly on the cold ground, since black plastic absorbs heat from sunlight. A better way to use this recipe would be to place the black-plastic-wrapped wool inside a closed car on a sunny day, so that the greenhouse effect can produce quite warm temperatures, which will help to properly set the dye.

While Procion MX dyes can produce fine results on wool, even better results will be obtained with specialized wool dyes, such as the Lanaset dyes or the Lanasol Dyes. The Lanasol dyes are true fiber reactive dyes that react with wool at an acid pH, forming extremely washfast, long-lasting bonds; they are said to work at "cold" temperatures, though added warmth will certainly aid the dye-fiber reaction. You can order Lanasol dyes in Australia from Kraftkolour, which is located near Melbourne, Victoria. Kraftkolour sells a wide range of dye types. Their "Cold dyeing system for wool and silk & other protein fibres[PDF] instruction sheet, explains how to use a method that sounds like exactly what you're looking for, using an auxiliary chemical called "Cold Wool S".

Ann Milner's 1992 book, The Ashford Book of Dyeing, mentions another brand of dyes, the Earth Palette reactive dyes, which are intended for cold dyeing wool. I imagine that these too are probably Lanasol fiber reactive dyes. You can order Earth Palette Dyes from the Earth Palette company's website; they are located in Gladstone, South Australia. To work with the Earth Palette dyes, you will need to buy the auxiliary chemical they call "Fixing Agent A".

In your situation, a good choice would be to order Lanasol dyes, and the auxiliary chemicals to go with them, and follow Kraftkolour's instructions, but it wouldn't hurt to place the plastic-wrapped wool in as warm place as possible to react with the dye. If you already have Procion MX dyes, you may prefer to use the sunlight and black garbage bag method as described by PRO Chemical & Dye, possibly combining it, if the weather in your area cooperates, with the heat inside a car, for improved color yield.

(Please help
support this web site. Thank you.)

Posted: Wednesday - January 18, 2012 at 10:50 AM          

Follow this blog on twitter here.

Home Page ]   [ Hand Dyeing Top ]   [ Gallery Top ]   [ How to Dye ]   [ How to Tie Dye ]   [ How to Batik ]   [ Low Water Immersion Dyeing ]   [ Dip Dyeing ]   [ More Ideas ]   [ About Dyes ]   [ Sources for Supplies ]   [ Dyeing and  Fabric Painting Books ]   [ Links to other Galleries ]   [ Links to other informative sites ] [ Groups ] [ FAQs ]   [ Find a custom dyer ]   [ search ]   [ contact me ]  

© 1999-2011 Paula E. Burch, Ph.D. all rights reserved