Space Dyeing in the Microwave with Acid Dyes

Hand spun silkHere we include a recipe for space dyeing yarns, fibres or fabrics. This technique is also known as low water immersion dyeing. The randomness of this microwave method is so satisfying – there’s no need to fret about precise colour measuring and each attempt will give you varying results.

The recipe is for dyeing white or pale coloured protein fibres such as wool, silk, cashmere and soy bean. Our photo (top right) shows a random dyed silk yarn on a hand spindle. Susan Litton first dyed the silk fibres using the method below before spinning the fibre into the variegated yarn.

You will need at least 2 colours of Acid Dye and white (distilled) vinegar.

  1. Mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar to 1 litre of tap water and soak your material thoroughly.
  2. Line a microwave dish with sufficient cling film to be able to close over the top.
  3. Squeeze out and spread the material randomly across the dish.
  4. Lightly sprinkle the acid dye powder onto the surface of the material. The more powder you add, the denser the result of the colour. Add a second and a third colour if desired.
  5. Dampen with a small amount of hot water and work the Acid dye powder into the fibres.
  6. Fold the cling film over the dish, ensuring it is airtight, and place in the microwave
  7. Heat on high until the parcel ‘inflates’ and then reduce the heat to ‘defrost’.
  8. Cook until the parcel begins to billow up again, turn off and leave to cool.
  9. Take care when you take the parcel out of the microwave as hot steam may still be trapped in the cling film.
  10. Rinse the material in warm water until the water runs clear, and hang out to dry.
Dye silk in a microwave
Mulberry silk tops space dyed in the microwave
Handspun Wool Yarn
Hand spun wool yarn space dyed in the microwave

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