My Low Water Immersion process for silk veils

I haven’t posted here in a very long time. I’ve had a lot of other things going on, from a new job to different hobbies to… well, lots of things. I haven’t done a whole lot of dye work, even though I treated myself to a lovely bolt of 6 momme habotai. 6mm over 5mm is nice as it clearly picks up more color from the dye, but retains the featherweight flow. 

Anyway… since I’m doing so little of this I thought I would share my basic process here. This particular process took me a long time to refine. It works for my water temps and my containers and my… everything… but that doesn’t mean it would work perfectly for you. This simply presents a starting point. I have synthesized it from methods described in the writings of Paula Burch, Ann Johnston, and with the advice of friendly dye artists like Darlene Coltrane, Darlene Nadeau, and Shaula Silkdancer. You’ll notice that I don’t dye in this method by weight. My LWI veils come out marbled and random, so I am not concerned with exact ratios.

Vashti’s LWI Microwave Method for Silk

Ingredients

  • Procion MX powdered dye in colors of your choice
  • Citric acid powder
  • 3 to 4 yards silk
  • Two microwaveable plastic containers (holding 8 c) with lids
  • Synthropol or Ivory dish detergent equivalent.
  • Milsoft or other textile conditioner

Preparations

  • Create citric acid solution by mixing 4 tablespoons of powder in 4 cups of water. Fold or crumple silk into a bucket and cover with this solution. Soak for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • Mix up Procion MX dye solution — at least 3 to 4 cups total dye for a single veil. Per cup of water, use 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of dye powder and 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder. More or less dye is to your taste and based on experience. If using Dharma Trading’s dyes, their * system will help guide how much dye to use. 
  • Squeeze the excess citric acid solution from the silk. Crumple it evenly into one of the microwaveable containers, then pick it up. Pour half of your dye solution into the bottom of the container, then replace the silk. Pour the remaining solution over the top. Poke the silk down where it bubbles up so that all the silk has been wetted by the dye. 
  • Place the other container on top of the first, nesting them together as if for storage. Weight the inside container down — I like to use a bottle of wine. 
  • Let this arrangement stand for 10 minutes, then remove the upper container and nudge at the silk gently to move it around a bit in the solution — just enough to expose it to the dye a little differently. This isn’t stirring. 
  • Repeat standing and nudging process twice more.
  • Remove the upper container entirely and put the lid on the container.
  • Microwave on full power 1 minute, then wait a few seconds; repeat; repeat again for a total of 3 minutes microwaving. You may have to vent the corner of your container during this process. Do NOT leave the microwave unattended and stop the process if the container is bulging! Let cool down somewhat before proceeding.
  • Set aside to cool. Whenever possible, cool all the way to room temperature, which might take 4 to 6 hours.
  • Rinse in cold water, then warm, then again in cold with a few drops of synthropol. I do this by hand in a bucket in the sink, attempting to remove 75% of unfixed dye.
  • Being sure silk is fully unfolded, was in gentle cycle in washing machine on warm with a capful of Milsoft. Two rinses are useful. Afterward, check for unfixed dye by pressing silk with a clean white rag; repeat wash as needed. 
  • Air dry on clothesline.

 

I hope someone will find this recipe helpful. Silk you dye in this manner will always be a bit of a surprise when it’s done. If you don’t like the result, tweak and try again. 

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