Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weaving with Easy Dye Cotton

 A friend and I bought some of the new Easy Dye cotton yarn from the Woolery.  I bought several pounds of the 10/2 cotton and now wish I had purchased at least one pound of the 20/2 as well.  There are instructions online on how to paint or dye the cotton, but actually there isn't much to learn.  The cotton is treated with some magic that allows it to accept dye - any dye, without the chemical assistants we usually have to use. 

My first warp  was a 15 yards of black 8/2 rayon, sett at 30 epi.  Too close a sett, but live and learn for next time.  I wove 5 scarves, each with a different treadling sequence.  In order to paint the design, I mixed up a selection of fiber reactive dyes - no soda ash added, just the dye.  I also mixed up a bit of sodium alginate for a thickner, so the dye would stay put when I painted the scarf.  Then I washed the scarf in warm water, rung it out as much as possible and started painting.  After the surface looked good, I flipped it and painted the other side.  Some of the dye had bled through, but not enough to look good.  Therefore, the front and back of the scarf are not exactly the same.
This is the second painting attempt.  I put the scarf in yellow dye and let it sit in the sun for a while.  The black rayon bled a bit and the E-Z Dye cotton sopped up that dye, making the whole scarf a bit greenish.  Then I painted it with reds and greens.

This is what the unpainted blank scarf looks like.  Someone bought one of these because she wanted the black and white look (well, actually shades of gray because of the weave structure).
I understand that you can use acid dyes (without the acid), union dyes (but then why would you bother) and natural dye extracts.  I tested a bit of old cochineal dye on the cotton and it took without any mordanting.    One last piece of information about these dyes.  Once the scarf is dyed, there is no dye bleed.  I put mine out in the sun for 30 minutes, but I suspect I wouldn't have had to do that either.  Which leads me to another thought.  I wouldn't want to use this cotton for napkins or towels.  They would pick up every stain, although this might make for some abstract design work.  Who knows?
As an addendum to this post, a friend found this link to an article that explains the process used to treat the yarns.  It's a bit technical, but wade through it if you are interested in using Easy Dye cotton.


  1. These scarves area a great idea and look even better in person. The black and white undyed scarf did look very handsome. Can't wait to get myself organized to try something with the EZ cotton I have.

  2. Very beautiful. I have a hand-dyed warp I'd like to use. Would you mind sharing the draft for this scarf?

    1. Hi Mary,
      I looked to see if I could find it easily - and wasn't able to find any of the drafts from this post. I usually design each item separately and these would have been done on 24 shafts. Sounds like a good plan, though to work with a painted warp. Good luck in finding a suitable draft.