Mastering Hand-Dyeing: Creating Unique and Vibrant Threads

Have you ever wondered about the intricate process involved in creating hand-dyed threads that you can purchase? Allow me to share with you the meticulous steps I undertake to prepare these threads for my work and shop.

The initial stage is sourcing the threads for dyeing. I acquire a variety of threads, including beautiful commercial ones as well as salvaging some from old mill bobbins. This diverse collection grants me a wide range of thread weights to work with.

Next, the threads are submerged in Soda Ash overnight. During this time, I keep them in their original form, whether they are in balls or on the cones they were purchased on. Some of the cones are quite sizeable. For the bobbin threads, I carefully remove them from the bobbins and transfer them onto paper cores to ensure the bobbins remain undamaged. Subsequently, the threads are taken out of the soda ash solution, allowing any excess liquid to drip off before dyeing.

Procion Dyes serve as my preferred choice for all dye projects. Using a syringe, I inject the dyes into the threads, employing multiple colours for each ball or cone. This technique produces the variegated colours that both I and others appreciate. I have discovered that the most effective method is injecting the dyes into the centre of the threads, ensuring that they permeate through every layer. This way, I can be certain that the dye has fully penetrated. I then let the threads rest overnight, allowing the dye to seep through.

The following day involves a lengthy process of rinsing the dye from the balls and cones. This step can take several days to complete. Finally, while the threads are still wet, I use a microwave to set the colours, after which they are left to dry. Drying can be a time-consuming affair, often taking several days or even weeks for larger cones. It is crucial to keep a close eye on the drying process, periodically rotating the cones to prevent any deterioration caused by extended exposure to moisture.

Once dried, the threads are wound onto plastic sewing floss bobbins. I acquire large quantities of these bobbins and wind each bobbin by hand, ensuring that the thread distribution remains consistent regardless of the bobbin's size. Occasionally, I may lose count of the number of winds and add a bit more thread to ensure accuracy.

When packaged in colour combinations, the threads present a lovely appearance. Alternatively, they are displayed attractively in big jars, reminiscent of a jar filled with colourful sweets. I have already prepared new colours for the upcoming Creative Craft show at the NEC and will make them available online after the event.

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