The wool has been soaking overnight, the coffee's made, the dye formulas are up on the computer...... now, it's time to set out the dyes.
I use both Cushing's Acidfast and Prochem dyes. I'd love to try out a couple of other lines but, as you can see, I already have a small fortune invested in dye. I'm afraid if I try other, I'll have to invest yet another small fortune! But someday I will ....it's so much fun to experiment with color.
This is my cabinet of Cushing's dyes. I transfer the dyes from those silly little brown envelopes with the tiny baggie inside to these plastic 2 and 4 oz. jars. It saves a bucketful of time and it's so easy see when it's time to reorder. (And, truthfully, don't you love looking at the colors stacked in the cabinet just waiting to be turned into more beautiful wool?)
My kettle of water is on the stove to boil, my counter top is protected with paper and a jar of uniodized salt is open beside my work. To measure out the dyes, I start with about a 1/2 inch of warm/hot tap water in the bottom of a heat-tempered Pyrex measuring cup. (I will, of course, never use this cup for food preparation!) Using Gray dye spoons ....my absolute favorites, I carefully open one jar of dye at a time and scoop up the granules. Using an old abalone knife, I'll level off the dye in the spoon and gently tip the dye into the measuring cup. After swishing the dye spoon around in the jar of salt to clean off any remaining dye, I set it aside and immediately replace the lid on the jar of dye. To help prevent errors, spills and dye catastrophes, I measure one dye color at a time. Can you imagine the mess from a spilled jar of dye?!!! Yes, I've done that and no, I didn't take any pictures. I repeat this step for every color I'm adding to my solution.
Once all the dyes are in the measuring cup, I give the dyes a really good stir with a small whisk to moisten all of the granules and form a slurry.....in this photo I've still got a bit more stirring to do. Once the dyes are thoroughly mixed you're ready to add boiling water. Be careful when doing this.... I find I have fewer splashes if I pour the boiling water down the side of the measuring cup rather than pouring it into the bottom. After the boiling water is added I give the solution a really good stir with the whisk, let it rest for a minute or two, and then give it another good stir. It's really important to stir enough to dissolve all of the dye otherwise you may get an unwanted surprise on your wool! (A tip from personal experience: red dye takes more time & more stirring to dissolve completely.)
An aside about leftover dye solutions....I adjust my formulas to the amount of wool I'm planning to dye because I don't like to waste expensive dyes. In other words, if you're using a formula from a book and it says, "Add one cup of boiling water to your dyes and then use 1/4 cup of this solution to dye a 1/2 yard piece of wool.", then you're going to have 3/4 cup of dye solution left over to store or throw away. It's much easier and less costly to just measure out 1/4 of the amount of dye given in the formula, add your boiling water and use all of the solution.....no waste, no storage!