There are several ways to apply dye to wool. And there are several types of dyes that can be applied.
This is a subject I don't know much about, but I am learning.
There are many factors that must be weighed in order to determine which method of dyeing will be used:
- What is the exact result desired?
- What type of equipment is available?
- How much do you want to spend?
- How much material needs to be dyed?
There are at least three types of dyes:
- Acid Dye: Woolrich did some acid-dyeing for us. Eventually I'll add here a little info about Acid Dyeing.
- Reactive Dye: Littlewood uses Reactive Dye, which people tell me gives a better result. But that's about all I can say right now.
- Botanical Dye: Made from plants but is not suitable for the amount of Fabric we make. Botanicals are also not as color-fast (they will fade too quickly) as we require. And botanicals cannot produce Black fabric. But I really like the idea of using dyes made strictly from plants, and I bet we will find a way to use them, at least for some small-run, specialized products
- And some of the dyes we could potentially use, such as for High-Visibility Blaze Orange, are not legal for use in the USA
There are different ways to apply the dye:
- In Piece Dyeing, entire bolts of fabric are dyed under heat and pressure in large pots. Piece Dyeing has some advantages of cost and scale, but can yield uneven results because it is difficult to get the dye to penetrate the entire bolt of fabric evenly
- In Yarn Dyeing, the dye is applied after the yarn is spun but before the yarn is woven into Fabric
- Stock Dyeing involves dyeing the clean wool fiber before it is spun into yarn. Littlewood has been stock dyeing for us. This is the method that generally produces the most consistent results. It's also the most expensive.
The method of dyeing chosen is an important consideration not just for the color of the fabric, but actually affects the methods by which the fabric will be finished. And "finishing" is a critical step that involves a lot of science AND art, and I need to do a page on finishing one of these days. I'll really need to sit, and tape, Advisor Rob Stuart and Giuseppe Monteleone of AWC.
This page is pretty much just a draft at this point. But I actually only put it together because I was updating our Production Backstory page and needed to explain why dyeing is now a huge obstacle for us.
13 September 2021 --- Ralph