Continuing with precision dyeing, the final posting on this subject....
9. Depending on the amount of fabric being dyed, I start adding the salt solution at about 5 - 10 minute intervals. Each time I do this, the fabric is completely removed from the dye water, and a portion of the salt solution is added. This could be in two to four portions depending on the volume of salt. I keep adding more boiling water after each portion to dissolve the next layer of salt. It is very important to remove the fabric and thoroughly stir in the salt each time so that when the fabric is returned to the dye bath it receives the salt equally. Once again continual stirring is important - turn, knead and manipulate!
10. Then it is the turn of the soda ash, same thing, lift it out, add some of the soda ash solution, stir well. Because there is a lesser amount of soda ash, this goes in as two - three portions.
At all times keeping the fabric moving is paramount for complete even distribution of colour.
11. Once all the salt and soda ash have been added, I will leave everything to soak for about 30 minutes, returning every five minutes or so to give a stir.
12. Finally, the dye water is disposed of, the fabric gets several rinses, first in cold water until it is nearly clear. Then a hot water rinse or two as this usually releases more surplus dye. Finally I put it through a hot water wash in my washing machine. After this it is pretty much colour fast or as near as it is ever going to be. To get it back to a 'bought' fabric finished, the fabric is ironed dry. Never dry and then try to iron - crinkles can be very stubborn! With some of the heavier fabrics I will give it a burst in the drier to take away some of the dampness. Often I will iron once, leave the fabric to 'air', then iron again.
All this may seem somewhat over the top but to get a result so that a roll of hand-dyed fabric is indistinguishable from the commercial fabrics is the intention. The client gets the colour and depth of shade they desire (well, 99% of the time!) and everyone is happy!
I have related these techniques to silk but they are the same for cellulose fibres ie cottons, linens, rayons etc.
I hope these blogs on this subject have been of use. Some of you have commented that they have been helpful and I hope your own dyeing experiences may be enhanced with what I have explained. You are very welcome to follow these procedures but also be aware that it still takes heaps of experience to get to this point. I appreciate that not many people need to be so precise.
To finish, something entirely different. I have just returned from spending time with family in Rotorua. It is wonderful to get absorbed into family life again. The photo is of Taria and Jessica, grand-daughters and cousins, training to be artists...