Monday, 12 August 2013

Trying Plying & Dyeing

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For my recent birthday I received what I would call a perfect assortment of gifts for a knitter/spinner.  2kg of clean roving, wool dye, wool tags (hand made by my niece Andie - just gorgeous), Louisa Harding wool, pattern book and a little book to keep me calm when I am not knitting.   I was thrilled - and touched.

Amongst all this yarny goodness, one item was making my fingers itch - the wool dye. Not due to an allergy I hasten to add, I had 3 skeins of homespun that was desperate for some colour. Deb & Andie has already dyed some of my earliest spinning attempts (you can read about it here) but looking back, I am a bit embarrassed at the homespun I sent to them.  It hadn't been plied and the twist hadn't been set.  How they managed to wind it up to use it, is something I'm too self conscious to ask and they were too polite to say.  I am determined to make up for this by sending them some 'proper' stuff.  I still can't say that my spinning is all that good but it has certainly improved since using the quill spindle.
Birthday Goodness

Saturday dawned clear and bright - perfect dyeing weather. I had 3 skeins of merino to dye and, as luck would have it, I had 3 new wool dyes - Bluegum, Tomato and Lemon.  I started with the blue.

It was very straightforward.  

Soak the skein in warm water with a little detergent while waiting for the water in the saucepan to boil.  You will need enough water to completely cover the skein - although this is a bit tricky as the skein floats .. who knew?
I mixed my dye - 1 cap full to 1 cup of boiling water and then added it to to saucepan.

Gently boil (if that is possible) for about 30 mins.  I started off with a rapid boil until I watched a you tube clip that said that if you boil it, it might felt.  So I had a quick panic and turned it down.  Intermittently throughout the 'boil', I lifted the wool and gently moved it around.  Once it was done, it was simply a case of running it under warm water to remove all the dye and hanging it out to dry.  It looked lovely outside in the winter sunshine.
On the line to dry

One down, 2 to go.

The next colour, tomato, really did look like I was cooking tomato pasta.  Once out of the pot and rinsed, it has taken on an almost coral colour.  I was very happy with it

I thought I would get a little adventurous for my last skein and mix my bluegum and lemon to form green. 

A couple of hours after I had started, I had 3 skeins of my homespun on the line and feeling very satisfied, although one dyeing tip that I ignored to my peril was the bit about the gloves.   My hands look like a bit of a mess at the moment so I won't being dyeing again without them.

Feeling a little off colour ..

Whilst all the skein dyeing was going on, I thought I would experiment with dyeing some roving.

It looked interesting.

Firstly, I plaited the roving to hold it in shape and to create 'crevices' where the dye could hold.

Then, a quick wash in a warm bath and then into the blue pot.  It didn't seem to take nearly as well as the spun wool but came out a lovely sky blue.

I knotted the ends to create places where the blue would be protected when it was immersed in the 'tomato' and then knotted it again.

Felted Roving - Not what I set out to achieve.
Finally, it was immersed in the green and then hung out to dry.  

I do believe I have felted it though.  I'm so disappointed - what a waste of roving. We shall have to see how it drys up to see if it will improve although, somehow I doubt it. Now I am wondering what I can do with a 2m long piece of multi coloured felt. 

 There is still so much to learn ... 

Happy Dyeing,

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