Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dyeing part 2

Click on photos for larger image.

Original creamy tussah silk

This time silk tussah, and a religious devotion to instructions in Fibrecrafts...
50 grams split in two; 1) 2 ply silk, 2) silk and merino ply.
Acid dye Jacquard vermilion;

soak yarn for 10 minutes in a solution of Glauberg salt (10 g), white vinegar (20mm), gently moving yarn for 10 minutes.
remove the yarn and add dye, diluted in hot water, return yarn to bath, heat to hand hot. Then take off heat for 10 minutes and allow to stand.
Return to heat and bring to simmer, silk should not go past 85C, Here I did not simmer for the 20 minutes, but bought it up to 80C and left it for 10 mins.
Allow yarn to cool in dyewater.
It emerged a rather pretty dark raspberry colour, though again the merino ply was showing a lighter colour than the silk.

L/h silk....r/h silk/merino

Turmeric; as turmeric is a natural dye no mordant was used. 40 grams of wool 1) 2 ply silk; 2) silk/merino.
Method; dessert spoon of turmeric well mixed in water, and simmered for 15 mins.,
then decanted through muslin into jar to remove powder. Dye returned to pot, wool added, and simmered for 15 minutes; allowed to cool.
The merino/silk dye took on a more yellow colouring whilst the silk turned into 'old gold'. Tibetan monks redye their robes annually because turmeric fades with time.


silk on left; merino/silk on right

"Tussah silk (tussah means wild) is a plain weave silk fabric from "wild" silk worms. It has irregular thick and thin yarns creating uneven surface and color. Wild silkworms feed on leaves other than mulberry leaves.Tussah silk is similar to shantung, with silk from the wild. Color is often uneven; usually referred to as "raw" silk."

Colours so far; the brown is supposed to be olive green, but have had trouble with this particular dye on wool, did as the Fibrecraft article instructed. Cream is the henna - not good, perhaps I need stannous chrolide for the mordant (tin)

Spinning the silk; Hardly any tension on the wheel, and slow footwork. The silk is very soft and slippery, yet spins beautifully if you concentrate. The 'twist' runs up to a fairly short stop on the left hand, (let go and it should 'barb wire' about an inch) whilst the silk drafted between the hands should be about 4 inches, the approximate length of the staple. Spinning from the roving is really no problem, except do not walk away and scatter fine silk all over the house. spun finely, it is as strong as string. Tight 's' spinning will of course be unspun slightly in the'z' plying, that is why you need the 'barb wire' ...


  1. Just fabulous Thelma!
    Great to see everything so organised! Jo from weavers/Spinners

  2. Thanks Jo, think Cher has a lot to do with me deciding to be efficient for once....

  3. Hi Thelma, lovely colours. Did you know that Bicarb will darken turmeric to a more orangey colour and vinegar will lighten it?

    Do you use a thermometer when dyeing?