Did you know about the saga of Neutral Grey Dye?
There are way more than 50 shades of grey in the world, as well as 2 spellings. You might not even notice that grey or gray could come in so many shades, until you start dyeing stuff! Ooooh, that one came out lavender. Oops, that one came out green. %$@#, that one bled pink. You can love it or hate it. Folks sure can get passionate about their greys!
Many dyers love the wonderful facets of dyeing with greys, all the directions they lean, all the colors they bleed or split into when tie-dyeing, ice dyeing, low immersion dyeing. It can be absolutely magical. We know this happens because all grey Fiber Reactive Procion type dyes tend to be 3 color mixes, and the 3 different color dye molecules behave differently depending on a myriad of factors, some of which you can control, and some of which you cannot. Grey Fiber Reactive dyes seem to give our customers the most surprises, some appreciated, some not.
PR41 - Charcoal Gray (a mix) ice-dyed on cotton.
PR150 - Gunmetal Gray (a mix) ice-dyed on cotton.
But we acknowledge it, there are purists out there. Folks have asked us for a pure grey that would not bleed other colors or split for ice dyeing. We heard rumors one was out there but we were skeptical. Our usual, and very reliable and knowledgeable "cold" water Procion type dye suppliers had said there was no such thing as a pure grey that they could get for us, anywhere, that would behave this way. Since they could not help us in our quest to find a pure Procion type grey, we sent searchers out to the far corners of the land, looking for the source of this particular new pure grey our customers wanted. We finally found some, but it was expensive for a cold water Fiber Reactive Dye. It was recommended to use it 4% weight of goods (OWG), which is high for a light color, and which made it even more expensive to use. The first time we tried it, in a normal Procion type tub bath, at 2% OWG like our other greys, and 105ºF, it was very disappointing. Like fog or mist. We were like, 'they really want this?!??'
Neutral Grey Ice-dyed on cotton.
Neutral Grey tie-dyed on cotton.
Then we got inspired. We thought 'hey, maybe this is a hot water dye like our #250 Jet Black. That would explain the cost.' So we tried it at 2% in HOT water. Aha, MUCH better shade of grey. It even dyed silk and wool grey in hot water. All of our 3 color mix Procion type greys shift on silk away from the blue and go pinkish or purplish. Not this one. We sprinkle tested it on wet paper towel too, and yes, the other claims were true, it was indeed a pure grey with no mixed colors. We tried it with tie-dye also, and now, for this article, with ice dye. Longer curing time, without extra heat, gives much darker grey than the shorter tepid water dye bath, approaching the shade you get with hot water!
On Wool and Silk - Left: w/cold water and soda ash, Right: w/hot water and citric acid.
On cotton Muslin and Jersey - Left: 105ºF dye bath, Right: 150ºF dye bath.
So we ordered a bunch of it for you! Yes, it is expensive, but that is because it is not an MX Procion type dye. It is a Hot Water Fiber Reactive Dye. We are offering it as it comes, in its pure state, uncut, as we do all of the pure colors. This way you can get a decent shade of cooler light grey with ours in 105ºF water tub dyeing, at only 2% OWG. You can get it even darker if you use hot water. With all direct application or low immersion techniques it is darker too because of the long curing times. A respectable grey! Also on silk and wool!
We added it to both our Procion type line, as #175 Neutral Grey, and to our new line of Hot Water Fiber Reactive Dyes as #817 Neutral Grey. Same stuff, same prices. In fact we brought in a whole new line of Hot Water Fiber Reactive Dyes just so it would have some buddies. (And because we have some customers who wanted a selection of hot water dyes - they have their advantages! Our next "Did you know..." will cover why you might want to try them.)