Call me a chicken, but I find washing needlework scarier than reading Stephen King books. No doubt that’s because I sometimes do the first, and I never do the second. Hey, I’m still scared of Ursula the Sea Witch.
My preference is to keep my stitching clean so that it needs minimal cleaning when it’s finished. I’m stitching so much right now that my hands are scaley from being often washed. I slather on the moisturizer at night.
Even scaley-clean hands and a dust cloth don’t altogether eliminate the need to wash needlework, though, so it’s best to be prepared. To that end, I’m pre-washing all my hand-dyed fibers. Or rinsing, I guess; I’m not using soap. According to The Gentle Art, the dyes are colorfast and won’t fade, but they might bleed. How’s that?
Apparently, some of the dye is absorbed into the fiber, while some is left sitting on the surface. It’s the absorbed dye that determines the fiber color, and this is colorfast, but the surface dyes are still looking to be absorbed and these are the buggers that will cause bleeding.
Because the dyers are working with large batches of fibers, their rinsing process may not remove all the surface dyes. Therefore, it’s a good idea to rinse the individual skeins ourselves, prior to stitching. It is recommended that we rinse in tepid water, then dry on white cloth or paper toweling. If the fibers are going to bleed, you’ll see it on the towel–not immediately, but as they dry. Some of mine are indeed bleeding, most notably the ones with red. Keep washing until the fibers stop bleeding.
It’s another step, I know, and stitchers tend to dislike the steps that aren’t actually stitching, but it’s not hard (okay, it’s a bit harder for those without running water). Dealing with bleeding fibers after the piece is stitched…now that’s hard!
So I’m taking the time to rinse the fibers, and if I have to wash the finished piece, I won’t be quite as scared.