Procion dyes - a how-to guide
Procion dyes are very versatile, enabling you to create a wide range of shades and colours on any natural fibres.
What can I dye?
Remember that although the following guide refers to dyeing yarn, our dyes can be used to colour all natural fibres including fleece, tops/roving, felt, fabrics, mawata caps, silk cocoons, clothing, even paper and willow!
How do I use the dyes?
Both animal (protein) and plant (cellulose) fibres need a fixing chemical to make the dye permanent when using Procion MX dyes. However you don’t need anything scary for this, just citric acid powder (or white vinegar) for animal fibres and sodium carbonate (washing soda crystals) for plant fibres. You also add salt as this makes the dye take more evenly.
Preparing the fibres for dyeing – animal fibres
You begin by soaking your yarn or fibre in water and the fixers are added to this soaking bath. You need 25g of citric acid (or 100ml white vinegar), 25g salt and 3 litres of water for each 100g of yarn for animal fibres.
Preparing the fibres for dyeing – plant fibres
For plant fibres, use 25g sodium carbonate, 25g salt and 3 litres of water per 100g of yarn.
Solid colour ‘immersion’ dyeing
For dyeing skeins a single colour, the dye powder is dissolved in water in a large pan or microwave dish (big enough to let the yarn swish about easily). For animal fibres the yarn needs to be heated to make the dye permanent or “colourfast”. Cover and cook the yarn for around 20 mins on the stove top, or microwave in 1 min blasts until it is good and steamy. Stir regularly for even colours.
Plant fibres don’t even need cooking! Just leave in a safe place for around 6 hours to set then rinse.
Use more powder for stronger colours, less for pastels. You can also create new colours by mixing the dyes togethers. We recommend that the dye powders are first dissolved in water in separate jars, then mixed as solutions as the powders are very fine.
Handpaints, ombre, veil and speckles
For multi-coloured skeins, dissolve the powders in jars/bottles or pots then either dip sections of the yarn in the pots or lay the yarn on clingfilm or in a pan/micro dish and squirt dye onto the yarn. I use squeezy water bottles for this, but basters (or just pouring!) is fine.
Again for animal fibres the yarn needs to be fixed by heating. Cover the yarn and cook as above, or wrap in clingfilm and heat by steaming in a pan or cooking in a microwave. Once the colour is fixed, let the yarn cool then rinse thoroughly.
Remember plant fibres don’t need heating so just let them stand for six hours for the dye to become permanent before rinsing.
Hang your rinsed yarns up to dry and wait for the requests for hand dyed items from friends and relatives!