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Breaking Pre-mixed Acid Dyes

Have you seen what acid dye can do? After doing a good deal of reading about how you only need the primary colors of acid dyes and that by mixing the primary colors you can make any color with acid dye, I decided to venture out in my own usual way. Instead of opting for the primary colors and carefully weighing and measuring everything to build a color, I decided to use the pre-mixed colors and “break” them into their component colors. The results are more fun than you can imagine!

The rules are there for a reason, but what is the reason? Pre-dissolving the dyes is necessary regardless of color, as no one wants to have dye granules in their yarn or fiber. Heating the dye pot is needed to activate the dye. The two aspects that can be manipulated to get amazing results is the distribution of the acid in the dye pot, and the pre-wetting of the fiber. These are rules that are in place to give uniform results within the batch and to make it possible to repeat colors from one batch to the next. This is a great tool for mass production, but for small batch artistic dye work, it may not be the best way.

I use food grade citric acid in my dye pot. It takes a scant tablespoon to four gallons of water. The citric acid is sold in most health food stores in a white granulated form. To achieve a broken dye, add the citric acid to the pot and stir minimally. This will allow the acid to dissolve without being evenly distributed through the dye pot. The variations in the ph within the dye-bath will cause certain colors to be taken up more readily than others. For example, using ProChem Violet 818, it breaks into a very dark purple, a blue, and a deep mauve.

The other factor that can be manipulated when dyeing protein fibers is pre-wetting the fiber. Leaving a portion of the yarn or roving floating on the top of the soak water and only wetting it as it is placed into the dye pot, will cause an uneven take-up of the dye solution. The resulting yarn or fiber will be various shades of the same color. If you combine this technique with the layered dye bath, the results are phenomenal!

It just proves that while most rules are there for a reason, some can be broken to achieve amazing results!



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