Friday, August 31, 2007

Crock Pot Dyeing
I have had a few folks ask me about dyeing alpaca. I have been using two methods, one in the oven and another in my "purchased just for dyeing" crockpot. Here goes with my crockpot method...feel free to contact me with any questions.
I assemble: 2 ounces alpaca roving, 1 1/2 cups white vinegar, boiling teakettle, a heated up crock pot, assorted large plastic and wooden spoons, and 3 colors of powdered acid dyes. I am finding that I like the Jacquard dyes best.
I think that two or three colors are the most that I can use with this process.
I add the stuff in three or four layers:
Layers: Circle dry roving around in the bottom of the heated crock pot, dot powdered dye with the end of a wooden spoon into the dry roving. I do this in an imaginary 3 piece pie pattern and always layer the same color above it into the triangle. Pour boiling water over the layer and GENTLY poke the fiber down. Add about 1/2 cup white vinegar on top of the water. Poke again. Continue layering all the roving, dyes, boiling water, and white vinegar.
Cover and simmer on high for 30 minutes (my crock pot won't boil in this amount of time, which is good, boiling is bad!) I don't worry about the water being completely clear.
Now, the hardest part, Don't Touch! Let it cool off on it's own. Remember, it's alpaca and doesn't want to be agitated.
After cooling, gently dump into a drainer and lower into enough rinses of matching water temperature until the water is clear. Don't get rough or let the water run onto it.
The last spin cycle on my washing machine doesn't add any water so works perfectly for spinning out my roving which I then lay out to dry, smiling all the way.
I am very pleased with the way the alpaca is turning out with this method. The oven way is basically the same thing using a large pan, dotting the dyes, pouring on vinegar and boiling water and baking for 1/2 hour at 200 degrees.
What I like about the crock pot is that it is very little mess and I can easily do one or two batches a day without it being a big deal.


skiingweaver said...

This is fantastic, Maple! Thanks so much for sharing! I've done some dying with food coloring in the crock pot but now you've got me thinking about buying one just for dying so I can use acid dyes...

Kimberly said...

Great tutorial!

I've done multi-color crockpot dyeing also. Instead of using powder, I fill the crock with fiber, water, and vinegar. Then I mix up the dyes with a little bit of water and very slowly pour them along the side and gradually move into the fiber. I've successfully done 3 and 4 colors this way. It's key to pour slowly so the water isn't disturbed.

Hey - since you love working with alpaca, check out this alpaca fiber art competition I talk about on my blog at - I fully admit I'm drumming up entries! But hey, the premiums can actually cover the postage if you win a few firsts. And Who doesn't like ribbons?