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The Selection of Dyes
When silk and wool, cotton and linen, are tested in various dye solutions, it is found that the former have, in general, a great affinity for coloring matter and acquire a permanent color, but that cotton and linen, on the other hand, have little affinity for dyestuffs. The color acquired by vegetable fibers is, therefore, usually faint.
There are, of course, many exceptions to the general statement that animal fibers dye readily and vegetable fibers poorly, because certain dyes fail utterly with woolen and silk material and yet are fairly satisfactory when applied to cotton and linen fabrics. Then, too, a dye which will color silk may not have any effect on wool in spite of the fact that wool, like silk, is an animal fiber; and certain dyestuffs to which cotton responds most beautifully are absolutely without effect on linen.
The nature of the material to be dyed determines the coloring matter to be used; in dyeing establishments a careful examination is made of all textiles received for dyeing, and the particular dyestuffs are then applied which long experience has shown to be best suited to the material in question. Where "mixed goods," such as silk and wool, or cotton and wool, are concerned, the problem is a difficult one, and the countless varieties of gorgeously colored mixed materials give evidence of high perfection in the art of dyeing and weaving.
Housewives who wish to do successful home dyeing should therefore not purchase dyes indiscriminately, but should select the kind best suited to the material, because the coloring principle which will remake a silk waist may utterly ruin a woolen skirt or a linen suit. Powders designed for special purposes may be purchased from druggists.