Washing soda is a type of additive. Additives (also called assistants or fixatives) can change the color of the dye by making the solution either more acidic or alkaline. Last year I used washing soda to turn my coreopsis dye from orange to almost red. It was such an easy method to make two colors with one plant, I wanted to see how washing soda would affect the dyes I made with acacia and oxalis flowers.
Washing soda can be found at most grocery stores in the cleaning section. (Don’t confuse washing soda with baking soda. ) Ammonia is an alternative to washing soda. (I haven’t tried it because I don’t care for the smell. It reminds of washing windows as a kid.)
Warning about using washing soda – a little can go a long way! If you add too much, it can roughen or even dissolve the wool.
My schedule these days feels more hectic/busy/crazy then normal. (How is this possible?) Therefore, my dyes have become mini experiments. My dye pot is the size of a sauce pan.
I used the same process for both the acacia and oxalis:
1. I dyed my samples without the additive and pulled the yarn out once I achieved yellow.
2. I removed the pot from the stove and added 1/8th of a teaspoon of washing soda into dye. (For a normal dye pot amount, I add 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the color changes). The washing soda will immediately change the color of the dye – it’s awesome to watch.
3. I returned the yarn to the pot and let it sit in the dye until the yarn changed color. It’s almost like a double dye.
I showed my kids this process by pouring the dye by into a glass mason jar.
Here are the results!