What does dip dyeing look like?

25 May 2009

Every one has a different term for this kind of dyeing.  Each term describes a different aspect of the process or results, so they all are correct in their own way.  I call it dip dyeing which describes the process, others call it ombre (French for shaded), gradation dyeing  which is how it looks..  It can be monochromatic or not.

I am a visual person so here are some pics of one skein I dip dyed then wove.

I started with a about 8oz. skein of Henry’s Attic PFD coconut silk.  This yarn, 60%silk, 40% wool is fine and light weight yet the texture allows an open sett and the cloth to still be stable.  Unfortunately this yarn has been discontinued and replaced with a smooth yarn.  Anyhow here is the skein.


I must apologized for the shadows in the photo, I took the pics outdoors to get true colors and it was overcast.  Just as I took the first picture we had what the English call a sunny interval.
I dyed the whole skein a sand color then I dipped a small part of the skein in a black dye pot.  I did not get black, it is difficult to get a true black, but I got shades of grey from charcoal to light.  On important point here is that I layer the black on top of the beige color, dyes are transparent and you can see both the sand and the black colors.  Here is what is left of the skein after I dyed it and used it for a weaving project. 

 Note that there are no sharp lines where a color change occurs, rather the grey starts pale and then becomes more intense the fades back to sand color gradually.  No abrupt color changes but gentle shading from one color to the next.
I wove this on a rigid heddle loom, sett 10 epi, plain weave, and used just this yarn for the warp and weft.

I love this cloth!  Random streaks of grey that cross each other. The hand of the cloth is nice too (you’ll have to take my word until you can touch it your self), stable but not too dense or heavy. The cloth looks handwoven because it is hand-dyed. It has the look of khadi ( the cloth that played a part in Gandhi’s rebellion, handspun, handwoven and hand-dyed) even if the scale is different.
The special yarn could be used in just the warp in which case the grey streaks would just be length- or warp-wise.  Or just used in the weft and the streaks would be cross- or weft-wise.

When you see a larger expanse of cloth you can see that the rhythm of the streaks of the grey is different in the warp and the weft. 

This is because they are taken from the same skein and each warp is much longer than the length of each weft shot or pick.
Then I finished the edges, hemmed with an embroidery floss to make a tiny towel.























 What is a tiny towel? It is an answer to the question, “what are you making?”  In my mind I’m just trying to make beautiful, sensuous cloth.  Of course the edges have to be finished too. 

Now about the possibilities of this technique and your skein: 

 •    You can bring a skein of 8 oz. or less.  Must be an animal fiber to dye with the acid dyes we will use.   This will allow everyone a chance to dye their skein during the workshop.  Half a pound of yarn is enough for a small project.

•    The yarn can be white, natural or a pale color.  It is hard to over-dye black and see the results.  Remember that dyes are transparent and you will see the first color through the second.  If you start with yellow or a pale neutral color you can get just about any color except white by overdyeing.  If you start with an bright purple  the colors you can achieve by overdyeing are limited.
•    Your yarn should be in a loose skein with many figure eight ties to keep it from tangling during dyeing. It should be scoured and ready to dye.  If you can bring it damp, from scouring or just soaking overnight, it will be ready for the dye pot.  If it is dry it can take ½-1 hr. to soak in water to get ready to dye.
•    I will have the resources to dye your  yarn  one color and then over-dye a part of it.  In the example above the whole skein was dyed sand then dip dyed  in black.  Or you can just dip dye the skein to get white and one color (example in white and red) or just one color on top of your pale colored yarn. 


There are many possibilities with this dyeing.  You could have the dip-dyed yarn in only bands or stripes.  If the yarn was divided into two skeins both could be dyed the base color and only one skein dip dyed and you would have coordinating skeins.  I’ve made a short warp with a well secured cross and many figure eight ties that I will dye.  The result will be less random and lead to a graduated color in the whole piece.  We’ll see.  What fun possibilities!

TO CLASS PARTICIPANTS:Before you come I ask you to email me  your ideas on what color scheme you would like to dye.  Something like shades of blue, white with sunflower yellow or wheat with moss green.  This will give me time to mix the colors and have some color you might like when you arrive.  I expect you will want to try some thing different as you see others results.  It is just nice to have a starting point that reflects more than my taste.



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