Shades vs tones
  • I am fairly new to dyeing and would welcome some advice please. For my latest project I am using acid dyes to dye yarn in various different fibres, mostly wool, alpaca and similar animal protein fibres - all currently undyed. I understand that the different blends will take the dye in different ways/degrees and I am quite happy about this.

    What I am trying to achieve is yarn with variegated colour (an ombre effect). For my first attempts I mixed the dye using 200ml water and 2g, 1g, 0.5g, and 0.25g of dye powder (I am using citric acid too), and I learned that these four strengths gave some variance in shade, but not as much as I had hoped. I applied the mixed dyes directly to my yarn skein, in sections, starting with the deepest shade and working through the other shades to the lightest and then back again to the deepest. I then used the microwave method to apply heat. My next attempt will go for a greater variance in dye strength to make the shade difference more obvious, and I'm sure that with more practice I will be able to achieve a sufficient shade graduation.

    What I'm really not sure about is how to achieve a tone range. I understand that I can get deeper tones by adding black, and I'm looking forward to experimenting, but how can I get lighter tones? Everything I've read says I should add white, but there doesn't appear to be any such dye. Would adding ecru achieve suitable tonal changes perhaps? Has anyone tried this?

    Any help and advice will be most gratefully received. Thank you.