Can I dye yarn on a PVC niddy-noddy?

Dyeing yarn on a PVC niddy-noddy is a nice way to get regular gradations in the skein. But... regular PVC pipe will bend under heat, such as the heat used in a dye pot (... the voice of experience, sigh ...). Rigid CPVC pipe is needed to handle the high temperature without warping your niddy-noddy.

So, you will need to make your own CPVC niddy-noddy from high temperature CPVC. This comes in about 1" diameter pipe and in T-joints (yay!), so you can get pipe and 2 T-joints and make your own CPVC niddy. The T-joints will add about two inches to the overal niddy-noddy length, so cut the pipe for the center arm about 2 inches shorter than you want your niddy size to be. The pipe is fairly easy to cut with a rigid saw - if you don't already have one, ask for that at the hardware store too.

If it helps you find it at the plumbing pipe section of your hardware store -- CPVC is typically beige, while PVC comes in a variety of colors, usually white and black, but also beige and designer colors.

For example, to wind a 4' skein (fairly standard full-bobbin skein size), you would cut your center arm to be 10 inches. Since you are making your own CPVC niddy, though, you could cut it to a useful size for dyeing, such as one that winds a 60 inch skein -- terrific for sock yarn patterning!

I simply "pressure fit" my pipe pieces into the T-joints, they seem to stay fit reasonably well; you could plastic-cement the winding-arms into the T-joint, but not the center arm -- because it's very handy to be able to flatten your niddy for storage.

(based on a post by me on dyehappy, 23May07)


Anonymous said...

Please be careful heating PVC. melting (alhtough that sucks, I know) is the least of your worries. I have one friend who recieved permanant lung damage from fumes resulting in dyeing her yarn on the PVC in a steamer. Also found out many 9/11 issues were a result of so much PVC vapors being let out in large volume. I don't know if there are heat safe types, but it's important to note that some PVC is a known hazard when heated.

I know when I heated mine (cause you find out all this stuff after,lol) the fumes were bad and we had to clear out the room. I used a Babe niddy noddy, not sure what that's made out of PVC-wise.

You may want to specify what PVC is heat safe.

Thank you so much for taking the time to post what you do. At times it must seem like you are talking into space, but there are a lot of us out here who glean some great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Oh duh, you DO specify using high temp PVC. I need more coffee.


Leigh said...

Ah, good information. I'm going to have to try this. I never thought to dye with yarn still on the niddy-noddy.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

For another dye-yarn-in-situ idea, how about dyeing yarn on the bobbin? A lady on dyehappy suggested this (or maybe sockknittingmachinefriends). She spins her wool onto the bobbin and then dyes it by setting the bobbin partially into the dye bath from each end. Serendipitous color, depending on how you'd wound the yarn onto the bobbin ...

Just be sure to use "boilable bobbins" like the Majacraft's!!

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Re Holly's comment above on PVC types -- the Babe Niddy-Noddy is made from not-heat-tolerant PVC. You have to get CPVC for this, or another heat-tolerant plastic. PVC starts to bend at fairly "low" temperatures -- a quick web search lists 140 F as its highest temperature, and that it is already starting to fail (i.e. warp, bend, soften) there. So be sure to ask for CPVC pipe, or pipe that is tolerant of boiling water -- 212 F.

PVC = Polyvinyl Chloride
CPVC = Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride

Don't let the schedule 40/80/etc. PVC pipe confuse you -- all of it is only rated to 140 F.

Also, on dyehappy, they've mentioned another heat-tolerant pipe: Polypropylene (PP). I don't know what sizes it comes in -- the example given was a 6" diameter pipe used to wrap shibori-dyed scarves.

Oh -- and all dyeing should be done in well-ventilated areas, with gloves and, if you are working with dye powders, face masks. Please be careful and responsible!

Inge said...

I am new to this but could you not just insert a wooden dowel into the PVC pipe in order to keep it from bending?
Inge, CA

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

@Inge, the wooden stick would help, but the niddy would likely still deform/warp/bend in smaller ways due to the heat, not to mention the other issues of PVC vapors mentioned earlier.