Advice on dyeing very fine threads?

Hi all,

I'm about to take my first stab at dyeing 140/2 silk for use as weft.  Any suggestions for how to handle such very-fine-silk to prevent the skein from tangling?  Advice for reeling it off later onto bobbins?



Posted on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 22:54

Wind in small skeins and tie a LOT of figure 8 ties to keep the yarn in order.  Of course, you don't want these ties to be tight, just regular.  If you wind a good skein and handle it carefully while dyeing, you should have no prolem putting it onto a swift and reeling it onto your bobbins.


Posted on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 23:17

  I learned from some indigo dyers to use a crochet tie to hold my skein, here's a rough drawing.  The black represents your skein, the arrows represent the way you crochet your tie thread.  They connect at both ends.  This keeps the yarn in reasonable skein order and allows slack in the tie thread to allow liquid to flow on the skein.   Let's see if cut and paste works:

I normally do about 4 loops thru a large skein and leave plenty of room for space to slide the ties to allow the die to penetrate.  One time I used too small cotton thread and it shrank in the heat, duh....tie dye!

Posted on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 23:19

 I also reskein  my smaller silks after dyeing onto spools to avoid battling any silk nits/knots during warping (especially) or winding a bobbin (sometimes).  I think that is a personal preference and depends on the thread personality (and the weaver's!)

Posted on Thu, 01/28/2010 - 20:20


I'm a little confused about this description. Are you crocheting through the skein or around it? If through, are the threads that are grouped the same for each loop? How many sets of loops per skein? Do you think it would work for dyeing a long warp?



Posted on Fri, 01/29/2010 - 03:06

Hi Deb, I'm traveling now so I can't grab a skein and take a photo for you, I'll try with words.

re, your question diagram above in post # 3 is illustrating crocheting THRU the skein.  I have the yarn would on my skein winder and place my ties in four places.  I focus on making sure that my knots end on the same side of the skein.  That gives me a visual to align my skein (AFTER dyeing and rinsing)so I can wind it off in the next usable form.  Let's face it, our skeins get turned ALOT in the dyepot/rinsing steps and we need to straighten them out before we unwind them.  I don't get worried about having the exact amount thru the loops, I usually do about 4 crochets loops thru the skein and leave lots of room so the dye/water can penetrate the fiber.  It is a transient step and your only goal is to keep your yarn aligned nicely so that you can unwind it with some degree of sanity.  Key item is to make the loops roomy in case your tie yarn shrinks in the dye pot.

I learned this method from watching a film on Japanese indigo silk dyers and watching Lao and Cambodian dyers prepping for the dyepot.

I've never dyed a long warp before.....I've always just dyed skeins and THEN wound a warp.  I'm not sure how to answer that question.  

Posted on Wed, 03/10/2010 - 14:21

perhaps i'm late for this dyeing session,but'i'll be early for the next  one :)

  1. put  the skein or skeins though a dowel and lay the dowel across your dyeing kettle, vat or whatever you use.
  2. move the dowel up and down and rotate the skein so that all of it gets submerged and colored by the dye.
  3. keep at it for the first 30 mins. then you can tip the dowel into the dye.l the skein will be totallt submerged. 
  4. every 10 mins lift the dowel carefully and repeat step 1.

because you're not stirring, just using an up down movement and yarns are hanging  down they do not tangle.

 tieying is not necessary, but if nervous  just one or at the most 2 ties are enough

i can voucher  for the method as  that's  how  i've done it  after learning  in Japan.

you'll be shocked at how much abuse those skeins are submitted to. :)


link to some pictures that will show how



neki desu


Posted on Wed, 03/10/2010 - 14:30

 I learned from a Japanese indigo video and modified it for my dye pot for my rug yarn  and for my silk skeins.  It works great, 3 dowels put togeather in a flexible triangle, pushed thru plastic's a photo using my holders to run rug yarn thru my turkey fryer pot.  The key is to cut your dowel the size to fit down in your dye pot!  critical measurement to make life easier!  I do tie my skeins in 3 places using the method describe in post #3 above, the 3 ties makes it easier to put the dyed skein on a reel to wind it off.  I always tie my knots in the same place so after their time in the dyepot I can face them all the same direction. You ensure that you have the skein placed properly so it unwinds without tangling!


Posted on Thu, 12/08/2011 - 17:50

Has anyone tried dyeing with high twist yarn for collapse weaves.  There is a limited amount of info available.

My concern is this that the dyeing process deactivates the twist.  But I have read that if you dye in water less than 80C

it is ok.  Just wondering who might have tried this.



Posted on Thu, 12/08/2011 - 23:55

I'd expect the greater problem to be dyeing the high twist yarn without having it collapse into an ungodly mess of tangles.  Based on limited experience dyeing unbalanced yarns, this is a serious issue.

I'd try dyeing a small skein first, to see whether you can keep it from tangling (more skein ties?), before going on to a larger version.

Intriguing question, though!  I may just have to try it, once I work through the other pieces coming off this warp.

Posted on Fri, 12/09/2011 - 06:55

In the Andes, Cuzco, Chinchero, Scacred Valley, the high twist yarn is dyed all the time since that is what they make and use. They make their high twist yarn into doubled skeins  and dye it before plying (after plying there is so much twist it acts a resists while dyeing).  Their skeins look kinky to us but they have the skills to deal with the high twist yarn. Their backstrap looms, made with high twist yarns,  also look kinky when rolled up. The key to controlling high twist yarns is to keep it under tension when not in some  orderly arrangement.  Balls made on a ball winder can turn into a gnarly mess; hand wind tightly wound balls for better control.

Boiling the wool will not change the twist but may shrink the wool.  If your collapse depends on shrinkage  you will have lost that element by dyeing.