Acid dye experiments

Suzie Blackman
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Left to right: Silk & wool blend, superwash merino, wool & bamboo blend

Left to right: Silk & wool blend, superwash merino, wool & bamboo blend

I’ve been experimenting this week with Procion MX textile dyes. I put a few different yarns in a dye bath and I’m amazed at the colour variation from the same batch! The superwash merino sucked up the dye and is almost black in places, while the silk blend is pale and much bluer.

The wool and bamboo blend has the most balanced shade and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. If you like the look of it too, check the site next week for a very special opportunity to win some!

The Procion dyes are really easy to use and require no additional chemicals on animal fibres other than citric acid or vinegar to lower the PH. They’re available from DT Crafts, I followed their simpleĀ instructions.

The author

Suzie Blackman

The dyer, designer, photographer, creative technologist and maker-of-things behind It's a Stitch Up. She lives in East London in a home filled with colour, fluff and house plants.


  1. mooncalf39 says:

    Very interesting to see the different results!

  2. Giselle says:

    I’ve been looking for a supplier of these Procion dyes for a while, thank you for mentioning this! Can’t wait to get those and my most recent order of undyed wools and yarns now. The differences in shading in yours is very instructive. Basically, if I don’t get the colour I want then just try in a different yarn? I heard that leaving silk (hm, or was it a different fibre?) in red dye for a veeeery long time might just give you an eggplant shade? Fascinating!
    Please tell us more of your experiences, I’ve been bitten by the dyeing bug!

    • Suzie says:

      I’ve had trouble dying silk red before (with Kool Aid) and I blamed it on too much acid (I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that too low a PH can affect some of the red dyes), but I don’t think that’s what happened here. Like you say, it just takes a long time. The superwash sucked up all the dye before the silk had a chance to absorb much. I’ve also heard that some dye molecules are larger, and therefore take longer. It does seem that the blue absorbs faster and maybe that’s why. If I’d dyed each yarn in a separate bath I expect they’d have come out more even. In my experience superwash gives the strongest colours though.

  3. Giselle says:

    That’s really interesting! Thank you so much, I’ll remember that. The more I learn about dyeing, the more interesting it gets! Just like with knitting…
    And I just had some undyed 4ply Bluefaced Leicester delivered, bring on the weekend! Wahey.

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