Thursday 3 January 2008

Dyeing acrylic with Ozepol

I bought some Ozepol dyes from Starr Laces at Penrith Markets just before Christmas. I had seen them demonstrated on man-made laces and 'acrylic' buttons at the craft show at Rose Hill in August and wanted to try them on acrylic yarn. This is what Starr Laces has to say about Ozepol:
A dye designed for nylon and polyester lace, buttons, beaded fringe (composite) and pearls. Ozepol is for man-made trims only.
I began my first acrylic dyeing 'experiments' before Christmas using the following tools:
  • Ozepol dyes - full range [9 colours]
  • white Panda Carnival yarn 8 ply 100g skeins
  • swift: for re-skeining and for turning finished skeins into balls
  • plastic measuring jug and a set of measuring spoons
  • for 'cooking': coffee jars, a microwave proof plastic dish, cling wrap and plastic shopping bags
  • an old towel - for removing the hot jar from the microwave and cleaning up spills
  • ice cream container - for carrying wet yarn to and from the laundry and for catching the excess dye when squeezed out of the yarn
NB all tools used only for dyeing

My first experiments were a bit 'hit and miss'. The yarn was often crinkled and, at first, I thought it was due to the application of heat. But not so!

Here [in chronological order] is what I have learnt so far:
  • Heating the dye then leaving yarn to steep doesn't work - the yarn doesn't take up any dye at all by this method. The same also applies for the 'hot pour' method.

  • Scrunching too much yarn into too little space in the heating vessel results in yarn with lots of kinks. These can be be stretched out somewhat but not successfully removed.

  • Removing the yarn from the jar too soon results in thin, knobbly yarn. The yarn must be left in the dyeing liquid and allowed to cool to room temperature - this way it plumps up again as it sucks up a little more dye. Leaving it for several hours therefore results in a very slightly darker tint!
  • Dye doesn't come off on your hands, therefore excess dye can be squeezed out of the cooled yarn without the use of gloves!

  • Using wet yarn only results in the dye solution being weakened and potential damage to the wet yarn outside the solution - I only dye part of a skein at a time as I'm making variegated yarns.

  • Using a shallow container, such as a dish, results in the yarn at the base taking up much more dye than the yarn at the top. This might be solved by making up more dye solution but I found it easier just to go back to my coffee jar!

  • Cooking acrylic yarn in the microwave results in the smell of molten plastic and may also give off toxic fumes - I'm waiting for a comment from the yarn manufacturers on this.

  • Most successful methodology:
    1. mix dye solution [5ml dye:250ml water] in coffee jar
    2. place jar in plastic shopping bag, tie off loosely
    3. heat 1 min in microwave - i.e just short of boiling point; this will vary from microwave to microwave
    4. untie plastic bag carefully; insert dry yarn - push it down with a plastic spoon
    5. tie bag off
    6. heat in microwave another 30 seconds
    7. remove carefully from microwave and remove plastic bag
    8. allow to stand until dye 'solution' is at room temperature
    9. rinse yarn, spin in washing machine, hang to dry naturally - don't use the dryer!
    This method results in the least amount of time possible [in my microwave] that the yarn needs to take up the dye and may result in less damage to the yarn and less toxic fumes but since I have no way to test this....
I have only obtained pastel tints at this stage. Doubling the strength of the solution would probably work, but Ozepol isn't cheap [48ml - $5.75]. I've nearly run out of dyes and I'm still experimenting. Click on the image for a full screen view - the colours obtained are fairly accurate. The green yarn in the top left is my first attempt at hand winding a centre pull ball around the handle of a wooden spoon!

My opinion at this stage: As long as I remember that I will only get pastel tints, results for effort = 6/10


  1. Ugh. I just wrote a whole long comment and lost it!

    Ok, to recap.

    So sorry about your shoulder. That must be so painful and challenging!

    Glad you're getting other creative outlets. You seem to be learning heaps. Keep up the good work, it's bound to be rewarding!

  2. Thanks for such a lengthy summary of your experiments. I like the pastel tints but understand you wanting something stronger.

    I'm really glad you are still able to be creative and not get too frustrated. Hope the shoulder is going well and doing what it should.

  3. Love the pastel colours. Might just have to buy some off

    You are going well with the experiments....Good luck with the darker colours.

    Good luck with the shoulder next week...

    Don't do tooooooo much.....

  4. I'm just wondering, was this experiment don't with 100% acrylic yarn? Also, have you washed them or put water on them after they dried? If so, did the colors run or lighten?

  5. If you decide to respond, do you mind emailing me? Thx


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