Other protein fibers are just too sensitive to the high pH levels involved in the easy cold water dyes, like those used in tie dye. For protein fibers, you will need a hot bath and a 'mordant', which is just a fancy word for 'the thing that helps it stick'.
In the case of protein fibers, acid is used to help the dye stick. We are talking some common acids here, not melt-your-face-off kind of stuff. Vinegar and citric acid are among the most popular acids used in acid dye. While these are mild acids, you should still use caution because vinegar can eat through skin if left on for too long, and you don't want to go getting it in your eyes.
Before using an acid dye (More about acid dyes and where to find them), soak your material in 1/2 water/vinegar solution for at least an hour.
After that you will be adding dye to water and heating the mixture in some way. The following is a list of a few different ways to use acid dye. Most tutorials involving acid dye are about dying yarn, because this is one of the most common forms of animal fibers.
- Yarn Dying Tutorials:
- Here is a great general yarn dying tutorial from Fibermania, using lots of rainbow colors and a simple microwave method.
- Sarah E. White shows us how to Dye Yarn with Kool-Aid. Remember to soak your yarn in vinegar beforehand.
- Here is a very thorough tutorial from Kathryn Ivy on how to dye yarn using Easter egg tablets
- This tutorial from Knitting by Zen has a bit more information about how much dye to use and how to get variegated and spotty results.
Protein (Wool, Cashmere, Silk)
- What are Protein Fibers?
- How to Dye Protein Fibers
- Learn about Acid Dyes
Cellulose (Cotton, Linen, Hemp)
- What are Cellulose Fibers?
- How to Dye Cellulose Fibers
- Learn about Fiber Reactive Dye