Adventures in Dying and Spinning
I recently had my first adventure in dying and thought I’d capture the process and share it with you. Going into this, I didn’t really know what I was doing and everything turned out OK. The instructions for the dye I used were for a dye bath and amounts were specified for all the dye in the packed. Because I was handpainting my roving, I just guessed at dye-vinegar-water ratios. If you are going to try it, don’t worry too much about getting everything just right. Here is what I did:
- Wool roving
- Acid dye (I used four colors of Cushings)
- Plastic wrap
- Rubber gloves
- Dye pot and rack
- Drying rack
I started of with one pound of roving and broke into into 1oz lenghts. This was a rough measurement – because I had 16oz, I just tore the roving in half, then in half again, and again, until I had 16 pieces. I wrapped each piece into a little bundle then soaked them in the kitchen sink (in hot water!) for about an hour.
While it was soaking, I ran around and got things ready to go. Because I tend to be sloppy with this kind of thing, I decided to do the “painting” outside. I just needed a large work surface, so Nick supplied me with these things out of the garage.
I taped strips of plastic wrap down onto the work surface. This sounds easier than it was because it was really windy that day!! Then I laid down a couple pieces of wet (but not dripping) roving on each strip. Once all the roving was out, I was ready to paint. To mix the dye, I made a vinegar/water mixture and added it to a little cup with about a tablespoon of the dye power.
To apply the dye, I used a syringe. It is also possible to use an actual paint brush or a squirt bottle (like they use for condiments at Subway). I fulled the syringe with one color, squirted it onto the roving until there way quite a bit of dye in the area. Once I was happy with the way it looked, I just moved onto the next color. I wasn’t worried about saturating it with color or with being tidy.
Once all of the of the roving was painted, I removed the tape from the plastic wrap, folded the edges in, then rolled it up – jelly roll style. I ended up with 3 rolls.
To set the dye, the rolls have to get steamed. I put them in my new giant canning pot, on a rack, with some water in the bottom. I brought the water to a boil then simmered it for about 45 minutes.
Once the simmering was done, I got the roving out of the plastic wrap and soaked it in hot water (about the same temperature as the roving) for about 15 minutes. The water was almost black with all of the excess dye! I did this in the wash tub – I couldn’t handle the thought of permanently coloring our white kitchen sink!
Then I drained the water and refilled the sink with warm water. The roving was soaked in this for another 15 minutes. There was a little bit of color in the water this time, but not too much.
This is what the roving looked like after the two rounds of soaking/rinsing. Notice the color looks pretty much the same. At this point, I put the roving into the washing machine and ran it on the spin cycle for a few minute. This got out most of the water.
I hung the roving on our clothes rack and it dried over night.
The color coverage and saturation was very different on all the pieces. Here are some examples:
I twisted each piece up into a little tiny skein-like bundle.
As soon as the roving was fully dry, I started spinning it up. I filled two bobbins with 2 1oz pieces. Sometimes it was really nice to spin but sometimes it was a little hard to draft. I think I might have caused a little bit of felting to occur during the rinsing steps. I’ll be more careful next time and see if makes a difference. I used my newly-acquired wheel to ply the singles together.
And here is the final product! This is a two ply skein. It is about 4oz and 83 yards. So, I’ll get 4 skeins about this size. It turned out so fluffy and soft! I can’t wait until it is all spun up and I start knitting with it.
I followed the instructions found at this site:
How to Paint Roving and Yarn