Some dyeing questions (Lanaset/Sabraset)

I'm actually not sure which forum this belongs in more, so I'm posting it to both the dyeing forum and the Chat forum, but I've got a whole slew of questions about Sabraset/Lanaset acid dyes:

I recently tried dyeing some 400g skeins of 30/2 silk yarn, and had a very difficult time getting the dye job even.  The silk clumped up, so I had to open up the skeins while they were in the hot dyebath, and rearrange the skein ties - which was difficult to do without burning my fingers, and which tangled the skeins.

I posted my question to another list (the dyerslist) and got the following advice:

(1) tie with LOTS more loose ties, up to 12 per skein;
(2) use more water;
(3) use some sort of lifting gadget to lift the skeins in and out of the dyepot (I found this on Sandra Rude's blog and will probably give that a try first:
(4) use Glauber's salt as a leveling agent
(5) either soak the skeins in chemical water before adding the dye, or soak the skeins in dye before adding the chemicals (not sure which but I can try both ways);
(6) pre-soak the skeins overnight;
(7) scour the skeins if they don't wet out properly or if they start clumping;
(8) heat slowly and maintain the dyebath at temperature for awhile.

All good advice, but I have a few more questions and thought I'd post some of them here:

(1) could the size of the skein (400g) have been a factor?  I've had better luck with smaller skeins, but I'm wondering if anyone routinely dyes silk skeins that size without trouble.
(2) Albegal SET vs. Glauber's salt as a leveling agent - which do you use/recommend?  Can/should I use both?
(3) holding the dyebath at temperature - in my experience, Sabraset dye "strikes" pretty rapidly once the water is at temperature.  What is the purpose of holding the dyebath at 180-190 F for 45 minutes? Does the dye detach and reattach over the course of that period, making for more level results?  I've never understood entirely why the
long bath is necessary, if someone can explain it to me, I'd be grateful.
(4) what is the optimum pH for Sabraset dyes?
(5) what is the purpose of sodium acetate when added to the dyebath?




Posted on Fri, 06/04/2010 - 16:09

Tien, I learned from Michele, Cheryl Kolander and many Thai and Lao dyers.  I've used Michele's method that Sandra showed you with the tubing.  Some of us found that the tubes crack after some use and weight.  Might be the type of tubing used.  I took Michele's workshop way and also some indigo dyers I saw that used bamboo sticks and combined them.  You can see it on my webpage in the lower left side here 

Since I am a rug weaver and work with heavy wools I needed something a little heftier.  There are three dowel sticks.  One cut to fit the dyepot opening.  They are joined in a u shape with fasteners that allow movement.  I then push all of this thru plumbing tubing.  They work like a charm.  They hold weight, which was important to me.  I have several, one for mordants, one for reds, one for indigo and one for yellows.  They wash easily.  The hardest part is pushing them thru the tubing...!

Happy Wedding!  Deb Mc


Posted on Fri, 06/04/2010 - 16:57

 another point which I just caught in your questions is the question of prewashing your silk before you mordant it.  Did you scour it?  Habu has a silk prescour solution.  I can look around for more information if you need it but sometimes the silk needs to be prescoured to remove the seracin and other machine oils even before the mordant hits the skeins.  Deb Mc

ps, disclaimer, yes I do work for Habu at Stitches and other conferences but it is because I like her product and she offers yarns not available elsewhere on this side of the ocean!


Posted on Sat, 06/05/2010 - 00:48

Their is a dearth of info about acid dyes and that has limited the people who use them.  Most of us don't like to used things we know very little about.  So I will give you more info than you probably wanted...
First here is an article about acid dyes that I wrote.  I didn't know where to put such an article here so I put it on my blog, This will answer your questions about sodium acetate and Glauber's salt+Albegal SET.

First in recognition of the fact that we have members all over the world I will try to use the most generic names/ terms I can, i.e., Lanaset (the manufacturer's name) not Sabraset (the name ProChem in the US uses for the same dye).  The same dye is sold under many names.  Lanaset is a very special acid dye brought into the marketplace relatively recently.  It is an acid dye but also forms a covalent bond with the protien substrate, making it a fiber reactive dye too (but only for protiens).  The presence of these two kinds of bonds to the fiber makes it much more stable than most acid dyes and accounts for it high fastness ratings.  Another property one likes in a dyes set is that all the colors behave similarly.  If you have ever worked with Procion MX (a fiber reactive dye for cellulose) you have seen that turquoise needs different conditions.  This kind of incompatibility makes mixing/reproducing colors in an immersion dye bath a nightmare.  Lanaset dye are very compatible and are easy to reproduce.
           could the size of the skein (400g) have been a factor?
I don't think so, I think you simply had the skeins tied too tight and they could not open up.  I dye 500g and 1kg skeins.   Fine silk is tricky because it tends to tangle, thus the many ties, just make sure they are loose.    Good and level preparation of the fibers is  the most essential part of level dyeing.   If your cotton is unevenly bleached you're never going to get level dyeings.  For silk preparation is just as important.  If it is reeled silk, is all the sericin removed (sericin is present in fabrics like organza and gives the fiber a stiff or crisp hand). Removal of sericin is called degumming.  If it is spun silk have all the spinning oils been removed. Removal of dirt and oils is called scouring.  Do you have bombyx mori (cultivated)silk  or tussah silk?  I have found tussah to be much more of a problem than bombyx.

Agitation during dyeing is also important for levelness.  For fine silk the movement must not tangle the skeins.  The devices, dowels, ropes, covered copper wire, are all solutions to this problem.  Use what you have on hand that is appropriate for your pot, skeins.  If you just drop a loose skein in to a pot and stir it with a stick you will have a mess (see pic at the start of this group).  Keep something thru the middle of the skein, pull the skein up and then drop it back into the pot.  Lanaset don't strike fast, if you have the right pH, additives and heat slowly.  Too low a pH (less than 4.5), easy with citric acid, will make them strike faster. The next time you see them striking fast test the pH.  In fact Lanaset dyes are large molecles and much slower than most other acid dyes we use.

I start at 40°C and I see the color start to fix on the silk at about 60°C. It takes me about 45 minutes to go from 40 to 85°C.  Most of the agitation happens during the heat up.   They need to be held at the high temperature for one hour or until nearly exhausted, whichever comes first.   Heating an exhausted dye bath will not fix any more dye to the fiber.

You didn't say what color you were having trouble with, pastels and neutral colors present extra challanges.

Posted on Wed, 06/09/2010 - 13:50

Thanks Karren and Deb! (and sorry for the very late response, my wedding is in three days and things have, as you might expect, been whirlwind busy!)

I'll try the methods you suggested - and Karren, your blog post is absolutely wonderful!  Exactly the information that I needed.  Many thanks to both of you.

Karren, does dyeing longer produce more level results?  I find that by the time I hit the 180 F mark, the dyebath is nearly exhausted, and I've never known why a longer dyebath is recommended.  Should I be using more leveling agents?

I'll report back with the results of my experiments once I get back to dyeing...I am planning to dye 60-90 skeins in color gradients - see my recent blog post, for some color simulations of what I intend to weave.  I unfortunately can't do four color gradients with the warp that is currently on the loom, since the two warps are solid blue and solid yellow, but I can do two color gradients, which is what I'm planning.  I may do use more than one  combination of color gradients, which would require dyeing 3 or more gradient sets.  I find that it takes me about 30 colors to get smoothly from, say, blue to fuchsia or yellow to red, but I'll have to dye some more samples to make sure.

I was dyeing turquoise and gold - I think the gold was a mix of 90% mustard and 10% deep red, the turquoise was straight out of the bottle.  So I don't think it was issues with splitting or anything like that.

I'm also planning to do a set of Sabracron F fiber-reactive dye samples on silk.  Any suggestions for dyeing with Sabracron F?