Washing and dyeing mohair
Washing the mohair
The first part making sure your fiber is really clean is the most important. Any lanolin left on your mohair will oxidize over time leaving the mohair to develop a stiff sticky feeling. Too much lanolin will cause dye to rinse off in hot water or rub off your hands as you work with it as the lanolin is melted. Lanolin contains a wax and requires very hot water and lots of PH neutral soap to remove it ,
( If you use laundry soap be sure to keep the temperature below 140 or add white vinegar to prevent alkaline conditions that damage mohair, alkaline conditions combined with heat cause mohair to become dry and brittle on the tips of the locks)
I recommend synthropol concentrate ( a detergent with out all the additives)1 tsp or Dawn 1/8 cup to 8-16 oz mohair, both are neutral ph . .I repeat the soap part several times. Then do the same with the rinse. Laundry soap can be used but keep the temperature below 135-140 as it will often make the water ph 8 or higher . I avoid using ammonia and dish washer type cleaners they are very ,very, alkaline and can easily make the fiber feel harsh at the tips.
I wash in small lots of 4 -16 oz and use up to 10 changes of almost boiling water when I am using a neutral detergent ( water must be above 130 to dissolve lanolin )and a set of plastic baskets that allow the dirty water to drain out quickly.( I can just lift them out of the hot water and not disturb the curls) Never let the fiber cool in the dirty water it causes the grease and wax to be redeposited on the fiber. If you have no plastic baskets I recommend you use a net delicates bag or an onion sack , this allows you to remove and drain while still hot with out felting.
Smaller batches are easier to get clean . Remember in hot weather and with time, lanolin oxidizes and is harder to remove . Solvents remove this oxidized wax and do not damage the mohair , a small amount of turpentine , mineral spirits or orange oil solvent ( my favorite to use) added to a hot soapy soak will loosen the waxes from the hair and leave a very silky feel to the fiber .( be sure to use good ventilation ) the petroleum based solvents will need a few extra washes and an airing to get rid of the smell. Which is why I use the orange solvent It smells wonderful and is made from citrus peel oil. I love the orange cleaner to get rid of the heavy unpleasant scent of buck and ram fleeces as well as the occasional fleeces that come in smelling of cigarette smoke .
Never use Chlorine bleach on mohair , it damages the hair and leaves it very harsh and too much will dissolve hair . ( drop a small lock into a cup with a bit of bleach and check it in a few hours !)
The oxygen bleaches that have no chlorine can be used to lighten stains
If you can cook you can dye, ok if you can boil eggs you can dye. It is just a matter of one step at a time. Uneven dye jobs with this dye blend are almost always caused by one of the steps being omitted. Or a metal that reacts with the dye .
NOTE Acid dyes can react badly with iron and aluminum , pots should be stainless steel or enamel with no chips , and used only for your dyeing ( do not share dye pots with cooking) , utensils and strainers used in the dye pot also must be non reactive , use stainless plastic or wood , if you are getting off tones especially greens it can almost always be traced back to aluminum or steel in the dye bath .
things to check include is the stainless worn many stainless steel is not full thickness , tell tale signs are black spots or rust in the pan .
Dark enamel like the common black spatter ware often develop chips and cracks that are hard to see but can ruin a dye job . and the modern ones have an extremely thin layer of enamel that does not hold up well.
Wash wool / Mohair really well, lanolin acts like a resist prevents the dye from setting check for tangles and knots to prevent tie dye effects. Dye can not penetrate knots. Even clean wool / Mohair should soak for 30 min in very hot soapy water before dying the fiber . when the water is drained if it looks or smell dirty I recommend rinsing and repeating the hot soak.
Remember the mohair must have lots of room to float in the pot crowding will prevent the dye from setting evenly. The wig dyes are tested to give the correct color at ¼ tsp dye per 1 oz mohair unless marked otherwise, though most of the blondes are also very pretty half strength . colors can be mixed to make your own blends .
Bring water & a drop or two of liquid detergent and correct amount of dye to a boil, ( Do not sniff or taste dye! All powders are an irritant to the lungs . this dye is chrome and cadmium free but still It is not good for you to inhale ,and you should avoid breathing all powders even kool aid or baby powder can be an irritant)
I allow the dye bath to boil a few minutes to be sure the dye is dissolved I add a few drops of dawn or synthrapol and for the dark colors add 1/8 tsp Of the sodium acetate that comes with the dark colors to the pot add ¼ teaspoon if you are dying more than 4-6 oz at a time, It acts as a buffer allowing the dye to set more evenly.. I bring this to a simmer then Turn heat to medium. Add fiber and keep just below or at, a low simmer for ¼ -½ hour, (this step gives a more even result) Boiling will tangle the fiber causing the dye to set unevenly, where it is wrapped you can get a light or white spot. Add vinegar slowly using about 5 to 8 oz per lb of fiber or a bit less for smaller batches ( always diluted for best results ) and keep just below simmer while stirring gently occasionally ¼ -½ hour, I usually aim for the water around 180 so the fiber is submerged.
A candy thermometer is very helpful
For the most even dye job the Ph should be lowered with the acid ( vinegar ) slowly. I add a bit of the acid then wait and add a bit more over the half hour to get even results Allow to cool, the different colors that make up the dye strike at different temperatures, never remove the fiber while the water is still hot , allow it to cool first. Rinse in warm then hot water. Then I squirt on a bit of hair conditioner and mix in . Give one more rinse. Drain, I lay the wet fiber on a towel or stack of newspaper to pull the extra water away.
Allow to dry before separating the locks If you try to separate the locks while wet they can tangle.
Use good light to sort the locks . remember the best results will come from combing and using the mohair in the same direction it grew . you always want the cuticle of the hair for a doll wig or rooting going down . rooting from the center of the lock or the bottom results in a doll that will appear frizzy and the hair can felt or mat with handling . making the doll look very messy.
Please contact me if you have questions
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