Saturday, April 22, 2017

Color Removal

Using Ammonia

Pearl McGown published a written piece in 1946 (Dye Dabbler # 19) that explained experiments that were tried to change the color of wool.   She wrote that hookers might not realize the variety of colors that they had at hand because they used their wool "as is".  Pearl tried 4 different experiments, some successful, some not. 
I was interested in her use of household ammonia to draw the dye out of the wool.  In the experiment, Ms. McGown used one teaspoon of ammonia to a quart of water and boiled the wool for 20 to 30 minutes.  She stated that the ammonia did not harm the fibers of the wool and it could then be used for hooking.
Many hookers use recycled wool (I do), and if you don't over-dye the pieces you reclaim, your color choices are limited.  Often times those colors may be drab or too intense for your pattern or purpose. 
Using her formula, I tried her experiment. I simmered the wool for 20 minutes, but I found if I poured out the first bath and again simmered the wool in ammonia water, I got a greater color change. The wool was about 6" x 24".  The pieces were then washed in the machine and dried.

Starting on the left:  The deep green became a blue green (it's a softer color than appears in the photo).  Of all the wools tried, the green released the most dye into the water.  I should have had other wool presoaked so that I could have taken advantage of the remaining green dye water.  (I may try that to see what happens.)  The two bright yellows softened to tans. The blues and magenta colors softened, but these last two wools changed the least.
Pearl McGown said that you cannot predict what color you will finally have..."there is no guarantee that the colors of all materials are 'built up' in the same way."  I've read that some colored fabric is produced when multiple dyes are used and all the dyes may not react to the ammonia.  So... you could have two wools of the same color, heat them in the ammonia solution, and get two different final colors. Surprise!

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