FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Tips for keeping yarn soft when dyeing with madder and the eternal question of how to keep yarn untangled when in process.

Each week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Here are a handful from this week answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors:

I finally had great success with madder but I found it to make my alpaca/merino yarn rough, losing its softness. Any tips? Would cochineal be a better?

Madder and calcium seems to have a bit of a roughening effect on animal fibers. Some dyers actually use a little dissolved hide glue in their madder baths to protect and soften the fibers, so that might be worth exploring. Cochineal dyes best in a slightly acidic dye bath, and blooms when cream of tartar is used, so it usually ends up feeling very soft after dyeing as mild acids help restore the softness and sheen of silk and wool.

How do you prevent yarn skeins from getting tangled while dying them and moving them once in a while. I am using the rings, but they are still getting tangled.

Yarn should be properly prepared prior to dyeing to avoid tangling while handling. Adding cross-ties to the skein helps keep the yarn organized during the dye process. Don’t overload yarn rings with too many skeins and handle the wet yarn carefully.  If you find yourself with a big tangled mess, allow the yarn to dry completely, then carefully separate the skeins, picking them up and gently shaking them free.
Check out our new 5″ yarn rings here.

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