How Cotton Yarn is Dyed


Today, join me in learning how yarn is dyed. We will go behind the scenes with leading
brands of yarn you see on the retail shelves today. From the makers of Bernat, Lily Sugar’n
Cream, Patons and Caron Yarns under the main manufacturing name of Spinrite Yarns LP. Get an up close and personal view to see how
it’s done. There are many ways to dye yarn, but today,
I’m going to show you how cotton yarn is dyed as a variegated yarn and solid colour
yarn too. Cotton yarns by Spinrite are grown and spun
in the USA. It is transported to Listowel, Ontario Canada
where the yarn will be dyed and packaged. Spinrite calls the dying section of their
facility as the Dye House where it’s a separate area of the yarn making production floor. The Dye House is known for being extremely
damp and hot. Between the boiling water used to dye the
yarn and the hot dyers blow drying the yarn, it’s the hottest place to be in the plant. Protective gear such as gloves, face masks,
safety glasses, hearing protection and more are not an option, it’s a must. Safety is taken very seriously inside the
entire plant at Spinrite. The cotton is already spun and in large bundles
called Hanks. The hanks are prepared in a way that the yarn
doesn’t twist or tangle. It’s strategically tied with yarn to hold
the continuous strand that is circling inside the hank. Cotton yarn, in natural form, has a dull beige
look to it. Some cotton yarns are sold in natural format. Cotton that appears like ‘Snow White’
has been bleached to remove the colour of the natural cotton. This gives the yarn the ability to turn any
shade. Even natural yarns are treated prior to being
used as a yarn ball by giving them a hot rinse to wash any imperfections out of the yarn. Instead of proceeding through the main steps
of additional dyes, it fast tracks to the extractor and then dryers before going to
the yarn finishing lines. So let’s track through the process of dying
the yarn. Let’s first examine how variegated yarn
is dyed. First, the hanks must be bleached to appear
snow white. This will give opportunity for the colours
to really come out vibrant and true to the colour palette they need. Once bleached, the hanks are moved to a dye
chamber that is a sprayer bath for both rinsing and dying at the same time. The operator loads hanks onto a spindle inside
the dye chamber. The spindle rotates while in the dye process,
I will show you more of that later. They are hung vertically with several hanks
on the same spindle. To start the process of dying. The yarn is washed thoroughly with hot water
and then rinsed with cold water. It’s now ready for dying. It’s now time to add colour. The chamber removes the wash water and replaces
it with dyed water. The hanks are hanging between sprayers that
are recycling the water from the chamber. The water is at the boiling point as it’s
hitting the yarn. You can feel the heat of the water when close
to this machine. The sprayers can be positioned up or down
which dictates how long the colour will be in the yarn ball. The bottom portion of the hank is being sprayed
for about 30 minutes as the yarn accepts the dye. As the dye hits the yarn strand, it’s removing
a bit of dye each time from the water and attaching to the yarn. As the cycle continues, the water gets lighter
and lighter as the dye colour adheres to the yarn. Cotton yarn is attracted to salt. Natural salt is added to the water which creates
the bond of the dye to the yarn. Once the colour has run through it’s 30
minutes cycle, the machine switches to giving the yarn another hot rinse to set the colour
and then cold water rinse. The spindles are rotated to yarn specifications
where the next colour needs to start on the hank. You will see between the colours where the
yarn colour of one is blending into the next. This is created by the hot dye water seeping
up the strands for about an inch into the last colour. So for every colour that is needed for 1 ball
of yarn, this is how many times the yarn is dyed and rotated inside this dye chamber at
the same time. This process can take up to 3 – 5 hours. Let’s see how solid yarn is dyed as the
steps after this point are the same for both solid and variegated yarn. For solid dyes, such as red that you see here. The process is simpler and involves a large
hot bath. The hanks are bleached like they would have
been for the variegated yarn dying. They are placed inside a large tank. The water inside has it’s dye added and
the water is at boiling point. The hanks will sit in the water until the
dye adheres to the yarn strands. Like the chamber, the dye is absorbing to
the hanks. The water is constantly moving inside to give
all of the hanks their fair opportunity to be dyed to the same exact colour. Once the dying process is done for both variegated
and solid colour yarn, the hanks are moved from the chamber or tank into a large bag
that is lined inside a rolling tub. Once the chamber is unloaded and this bag
is full, the extractor operator will come and take the rolling tub to the extractor. It will lift up the bag and the the operator
will open the bottom of the bag over the extractor insert. Getting as close to equal as possible on both
sides. This insert will be placed inside the extractor
where it will rotate at phenomenal speeds to force the remaining water out of the hanks. This operates very similar to your washing
machine on the spin cycle. Once the water extraction is done and virtually
no more water is coming from the machine as it rotates. The yarn is still damp and requires drying. The extractor will remove the damp yarn hanks
and piled them onto a rolling cart. It is this taken to the dryers. The dryer is the final step prior to going
to yarn finishing to prepare to wound into skeins. Here, the operator lays the hanks onto the
slowly moving conveyor. They lay 1 layer of hanks, then walk about
100 feet to the other side of the dyer to retrieve the next hanks that are coming out
the other side. This operator is constantly moving between
the loading and unloading station on their own. It’s a work out. Once dried, it’s moved to the main production
of the company to yarn finishing as it will sit and wait for the next process. Pretty neat eh! That’s it for how yarn is dyed today. I hope that you have enjoyed your front row
seat. On behalf of Yarnspirations and The Crochet
Crowd, have an amazing day!

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