Cotton Candy Floss

Fibre Crafts ZA                                                                                                              February 2012

Joan Wulff

RAINBOW DYED COTTON    (16 Wraps per inch / 2.5 cm)
Suitable as an accent yarn in a plain knitted or woven top.

Cotton tops
Crystalline washing soda (The powdered variety may contain ingredients that can affect the dyeing)
Fibre reactive dyes
Dish washing liquid
Pure soap powder.

• Line an old enamel baking pan with foil.

• Plait half the cotton tops (not too tightly), lay flat, side by side in pan.

• Make a 10% (by weight of fibre) solution of washing soda. First dissolve in water, add l ml of dishwashing liquid, then add more lukewarm water and pour carefully over the cotton. It must be totally covered.

• Leave to soak till thoroughly wetted. Be patient it can take a few days! Wear a face mask and sprinkle small quantities of cotton fibre reactive dyes in alternate stripes across the plaits, much as for rainbow dyeing wool. Cibacron F dyes, red and blue, were used here.

• Leave for 30 minutes to 24 hours, time being relative to final depth of colour. Rinse plaits carefully by tipping out solution, adding cold water, pressing the plaits and repeating till water runs clear. Gently squeeze plaits and hang up to dry, un-plaiting carefully as they dry.

• Keep plait 'strips' in colour order starting from the tops of the plaits. Before spinning a finer roving can be pulled from the strip. Z spin as fine a thread as possible.

• Z spin as finely the remainder of the cotton tops. Leave white or dye a matching colour.

• Ply S, skein and tie in at least 8 places. This is now scoured to remove excess dye and to set the twist.

To scour:  Boil for 30 minutes in plenty of water to which is added about 20 ml pure soap powder and 10 ml washing soda. Rinse very thoroughly in hot water and hang to dry.

1. Dye powder does not spread along cotton as readily as with wool. Avoid white sections between the colours by sprinkling each powder quite closely together.
2. Alternative dyes to try with this method are Dylon or any other COLD water dye on the market. Instead of washing soda, use the fixative/salt solution for soaking

Acknowledgment to Stephenie Gaustad "Spin Off", Summer 1988.
REFERENCE: "Synthetic Dyes for Natural Fibers" by Linda Knutson available from Interweave Press.