Weigh your fiber dry. You can dye animal fibers or silk -- wool, alpaca, dog, etc. The dyes we are using for dye day can't be used for plant fibers like cotton, rayon, bamboo, etc.
If your fiber might still have lanolin or oils on it, then soak it in hot water and Dawn dishwashing liquid, then gently rinse several times. Throughout the process of cleaning, soaking, dyeing, and rinsing, remember to avoid agitating or scrubbing your fiber or yarn, as this would cause felting. Soak it for several hours in plain water before coming to the meeting. Overnight is best. If you forget to soak it, we'll put it in some water when you get to the meeting. Drain it and bring it wet. It needs to be wet, but not dripping.
We'll cover the tables with plastic to protect them. On top of the table, lay down newspaper and then plastic wrap. Lay out your fiber or yarn to be dyed.
Put on gloves!
The Jacquard acid dyes were pre-mixed to a 1% dye stock. If you do this part yourself, you should wear a mask to keep from breathing in the dye dust.
For most colors, 1% dye solution right on to your yarn or fiber would be very dark. To change the value of the color, add more water. You can do this by diluting the dye with some water in a Dixie cup for a lighter color. You can also test the color in your cup by dipping a piece of paper towel or Q-tip in it.
Once you get the color you want in your cup, pour a small amount of the dye onto your fiber or yarn, and gently push the dye into the fiber with your gloved hand.
When you get the dye onto the fiber the way you want it, SPRAY THE FIBER WITH VINEGAR. Cover the fiber with another piece of plastic wrap and roll it up, jelly roll-style and then coil it onto itself. Put a paper towel in the bottom of a freezer zip-lock bag to absorb excess dye. Leave the ziplock bag open. Microwave for 1 minute per ounce of fiber or yarn. Place in the roaster to keep it warm. Allow to cool down slowly. Leave it overnight without unwrapping it.
The next day, rinse gently until water is clear. Except for the final rinse, which can be done in your kitchen sink, the whole process should not be done in your kitchen or around food.
This information was prepared by Deirdre Aycock.