This weekend I have been dyeing ric rac and I thought that I would share how. It is really very easy.
I bought a large amount of Ric Rac in different sizes and have dyed it in 20 different colorways (more on that later). You don’t need to want to dye much to follow the instructions below. Just adjust your process to match the volume you are dying.
You can use these instructions for any cellulose fibre (fibres which come from plants like cotton, rayon, linen, hemp, bark etc) and silk or blends of these fibres.
If you are dying threads or other items which are likely to get into a big knot, you should skein them up first. Create a skein – size will vary depending on how much you are dyeing and how thick it is – and tie the skein loosely in about four places to hold it in shape and prevent knotting. Don’t tie this tightly or the dye wont penetrate where the ties are.
I always, or nearly always, presoak my fabric in soda ash solution when I dye with Procion Dyes. Mix about a tablespoon (Aus measure – 25mls) of soda ash in two to four litres of tap water and dissolve. Then submerge your fabric etc and leave it to soak.
While the soda ash is soaking in prepare your dyes. As a general rule, my starting point for colour is about a teaspoon (5mls) per litre of water. More dye for dark colour, less for pastels. Adjust your measurements to the volume of dye you need. You might only need a quarter of a teaspoon in a cup if you are dying small amounts.
Generally, I will coordinate three colours into everything I dye. This example has chocolate, olive and rust orange and I want it to be light, so I have used less than a teaspoon of each colour.
I am doing variegated or space dyeing on this, so lay out the ribbon, yarn or thread like I have with the ric rac. I want it in an even spread so that the dye is evenly distributed.
The enemy of this type of dyeing is to have surplus dye in or around the fibre being dyed. To avoid this, I use a rack and tray system. The alternative is to put something down to absorb the excess dye such as fabric. I often make what are known as mud fabrics by using them to absorb the excess dye. In a mud fabric you let it take all the dyes and because they have some soda ash in them, they take in the fabric differently and you never quite know what you are going to get.
Pour the first colour across your fibre. You need to go slow and have control. If you prefer, you can use bottles with nozzles. I just use plastic cups and go slowly. Prod the fibre to make sure the colour is all the way through. You can space your variegations as widely as you want, but try to be a bit even (or not if you prefer). Keep a little bit of each dye aside to fill gaps and touch up.
Add the second colour next to and slightly overlapping the first. The overlap creates some blending and ensures that there is no undyed areas. Of course, you might want some white left in there and that is fine too.
Add your last colour and again overlap, prod and massage to fill gaps.
I then flip it all over. You may not need to do this, but I always dye large quantities so flip it all over to double check. Use the extra dye that you have held back to reinforce your colour and fill gaps. Set aside and allow to batch for a few hours. I find it useful to wrap this in cling wrap so that the dyes don’t dry out while I batch. That way if you don’t get back to it for a while the dye remains moist. It also means that the colours don’t cross infect each other by accidental contact while reacting.
Once you are happy with the colours and have left them for a few hours, rinse out the excess dye and soak in hot water until the colour stops running and your water runs clear. Hang to dry.
Here is my finished sample. I will have photos of other colourways on facebook and they will all be loaded on the web in good time. What do you think?