Blue is (not) the colour

Yesterday I took some of my newly cleaned fleece into Morley College to have a go at dyeing it. I was using acid dyes, which I was told came out the colour they appeared (unlike disperse dyes in the heat press, which are always much brighter).

I mixed some scarlet and turquoise dyes to give a deep blackberry colour, added the acid fixer, and mixed them with water in a tea urn. Then I put some fleece in and heated the mixture so that it was hot but not boiling. I left it for 20 minutes, then removed the fleece and rinsed gently in hot water.

To my disappointment, the wool came out salmon pink rather than deep purple – not a colour that appeals to me at all!

A swift consultation with the tutors elicits the explanation that “blue is a difficult colour”. Apparently you have to leave the wool much longer in blue dye for it to work, and even then it can still be problematic.

So I decided to experiment with locks of wool on a smaller scale (a bowl of dye on a hotplate). The photo below shows the effect of using orange, violet and blue to overdye the salmon pink (top row) and on virgin white wool (bottom row).

Even when I left the wool to soak in the blue dye over lunch, the overdyed sample came out with streaks of salmon pink. A bit more work required to crack this, I think!