If you’ve ever made a big jar of sun tea, the concept of solar dyeing will make perfect sense to you. Simple ingredients: water, vinegar, fiber, your choice of dyes and a big tea jar along with a sunny summer day is pretty much all you need. I also used squeeze bottles to mix my dye in and a dedicated set of measuring spoons . If you aren’t using food safe dyes such as Kool-Aid or food colors, the containers you use for dyeing should be for dyeing alone, not to be used again for food or drink. Many professional dyes have heavy metals in them that aren’t safe to ingest, so keep all dyeing utensils for dyeing only.
I pre-soak my fiber right in the jar with tap water and a generous glug of vinegar. Let it soak for a good 30 minutes before dyeing.
Add color however you like. I started with a light red that I squirted over about 3/4 of the fiber, then added puddles of darker red, then purple to get a variegated braid of fiber. If your goal is to make a variegated braid, add color after your fiber has heated in the sun and the dye will strike faster, so you’ll get less mixing of colors.
Sit your jar in the sunshine and let it brew until your water is clear, which means the dye is exhausted. Tip the jar and drain out the liquid, then gently squeeze out the fiber and hang it to dry. I hang mine in the shade of my backyard tree. Here’s an excellent video that shows how to braid roving for a pretty presentation of your home dyed fiber.
The result is always unique and a good way to start a fun summer spin. Tour de Fleece is right around the corner!