A silk scarf is actually quite simple to dye. Silk is very light and filmy. It binds up into a small bundle that needs only a small amount of dye. It also takes the dye up very easily. When dyeing a cotton fabric you almost have to batter the dye into the fibre, silk seems to suck it up.
The first thing to do is to wash the scarf thoroughly in warm water to remove any residual chemicals that might have been left there from the mill, or even from spills during shipping.
The fabric can be manipulated in a variety of ways to achieve different kinds of marks.
It can be crackled into a brain-like disc and bound with string. You can tie it tightly with elastic bands to create watery ripples or you can fold it in parallel folds to create stripes or checks. Make sure you bind it tightly enough to exclude the dye completely from the fabric.
Purists say that you must use special silk dyes for silk. I have used all sorts of dyes to dye silk, some that are not ideally suited. The key is to work fast and rinse all the chemicals out very well afterwards. The alkaline fixatives used with reactive dyes will bruise the fibre with long exposure. Silk takes up dye very easily.
Plan where you want your colours before you start. Mix the dye hot and submerge the silk in the dyebath for twenty minutes. If you are planning a second colour, apply it freshly mixed thereafter. You can even add a third colour if you are feeling adventurous.
Remove the silk from the dye and rinse thoroughly with warm water. You will find the silk will need three or four rinses to get the fabric properly clear of dye. Remove the bindings near the end when the water is fairly clear so you do not spoil the marks you took such trouble to make.
Add a drop of fabric softener to the last rinse.
Enjoy giving a gift that you have made yourself.
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