Last fall, Travis, the dogs, and I went camping in Tennessee at Roan Mountain State Park. While we were in Tennessee, we were able to go to Jane’s Fiber and Beads, a pretty huge shop that sells, well, fiber and beads. It was kind of nice to be in a shop that big and have it not be focused on yarn. We went there twice, and on the second trip I bought an 8 ounce bag each of viscose and lyocell fibers.

Viscose, although I had never dyed or spun it before, I was at least passingly familiar with. I had heard of it, basically. But I had no clue what the heck lyocell was. Fortunately, when I got home, Wikipedia was there to help me out. Turns out lyocell is just the technical name of tencel. Or, to turn it around, tencel is the brand name of lyocell.

Anyway, I had never done anything with either fiber. Regardless, I went ahead and ordered more tencel and viscose with my gigantor fiber order. I figured, though, that I should probably go ahead and try dyeing them, to see how I liked it. So that’s what I did yesterday and today.

Since tencel (lyocell) and viscose are both cellulose based derivatives – the “cel” in lyocell and tencel stands for cellulose – I had to use my Procion MX reactive dyes for this. Unfortunately, my MX dyes are a holdover from my cotton fabric dyeing days, so I think some of them have gone a little weird, because they’re old. In addition, I had mixed up some of the dyes a few weeks ago and kept the leftover dye (which is what I used to dye these fibers) in the fridge, so that just increased the chance of color strangeness. No matter. It just adds to the excitement!

I broke the viscose up into 3 sections (each roughly 2-3 ounces) and the lyocell into 2 sections. Then I soaked both overnight in soda ash solution, combined with a drop or so of Synthrapol and some salt. The next morning, I took a bucket and poured a bit of the diluted magenta dye in the bottom of it. I added a layer of viscose, and poured some orange on top of that. Then I put in a chunk of the lyocell, and poured yellow on top of that, and so on, alternating viscose and lyocell until I got to purple. I put plastic wrap over the top of the bucket and let it sit outside all day and overnight. That’s one thing for these warm temps – perfect for dyeing with MX dyes!

This morning, I took the bucket and dumped everything out in the sink.


It looks like brains! Then I separated the sections and let them soak.


And in the above picture, you can see why you need a cat if you want to do dyeing of any type. Kitty litter buckets are the bomb!

Here are the fibers, separate but equal:


They didn’t bleed that bad, except for the blue and purple ones, but that’s only because I was trying to get rid of my dye and dumped about 4 times as much on it as I actually needed.

I was going to let them all dry outside, but the lyocell kept sticking to my fence (I don’t have a clothesline so I throw everything over our silly little farm fence), so I took it inside. The viscose hurried up and dried, though. Viscose and tencel seem to have the same property that silk and ramie have – after the fiber has been wet and then dries, it gets all hard and crunchy. Fortunately, like most things, it improves after you give it a good yank and fluffs out quite a bit.


The colors are ridiculously shiny and vibrant on the viscose, so much so that the Nikon freaked out a little bit and had a hard time getting accurate colors in the photos. This is the best picture of the pink roving that I could get – the colors here are pretty true to life.


I think next I’m going to comb up some of the viscose and combine it with silk and some of the awesome Black Diamond fiber I got. That stuff is so soft I can barely comprehend it. Oh, did I mention that I also got a wide flyer and bulky bobbin for the Louet? I’m going to have to take those for a test drive, too.


2 thoughts on “Shiny!”

Comments are closed.