Tuesday, 25 September 2012

What can have coloured my silk?

I have just prepared a variety of silk fibres and yarns ready for dyeing. There are several winter markets coming up so I thought I ought to get started - but without the usual panic and rush!

Maybe this was a bad idea! ALL the fibres and yarns were Mulberry silk so white rather than cream or caramel coloured. I scoured them all first - but in separate pans as I didn't want the fibres attaching themselves to the yarns.

 I had already mordanted alpaca and romney so the mordant was an exhaust bath being re-used, it had had alum and cream of tartar in (hopefully taken up by the wooly yarns) so I added a different proportion of alum and cream of tartar for the silks. The liquid was CLEAR, absolutely no sign of any colour before I entered the silk. The silk was still white before being entered.

The liquid was heated to about 45 degrees and then left for a day - I like the mordant to have a good length of time with the fibres! When I took the lid off to srain out ready to use again I had something of a shock! 

All the fibres had changed colour to a lovely shade of peach! The liquid has remained colourless - hopefully you can see that from the yarn picture. The mordant bath is stainless steel and there is nothing unusual about the alpaca and romney that came out before. (The green you can see is the tags I use for labelling my yarns - and no, none of the ink has come off either!)) I am sure there is no iron contamination and although I do sometimes add in tannin when mordanting silk (correct historically) there was none present here.

The white tub shows the silk caps that have been taken out of the bath - they really are very pretty, but what can be the colour?

I haven't yet tried to dye any of the fibres - that will be the next interesting challenge,

Has anyone had a similar experience - or any suggestions? I'll let you know how I get on with the dyeing in due course!


jane d said...

This is a total mystery to me, Deb. I have dyed and mordanted kilos and kilos of silk in my time but can't explain this one! Be really pleased to hear what the explanation might be.....

Freyalyn said...

How strange. Have they paled much as they dried? Some weird reaction here, it seems - were the mordants from sources you'd used before?

Debbie Bamford said...

If you can't help Jane!!!! Freyalyn yes the mordants are from my usual supplier the only thing I have in the bath that is not usually there is the carrier rods. Have mordanted them separately before and not had this happen to them. The colour is definitely paler now dry and on some of the silks quite patchy, on others it's beautifully even, there really is NOTHING in the liquid to give a clue.

Helen said...

I can't think either what it can have been. Do you use extracts? Could something have dropped in accidentally?
What a mystery!