Tag Archives: wool

Wool Dyeing Experiments


I have been dyeing a lot of wool since that fiasco before. By the way, that actually turned out to be pretty nice yarn and I made a hat out of it. It had a lot of gray in it which is from not using the color wheel properly but I still liked it.

Recently I bought a lot more dye from Dharma Trading Co (it was on sale) so I could try different color combinations. I know you can make any color using just red, yellow and blue but that take a lot o more color theory training than I have! I did buy 2 primaries this time to see how it goes but haven’t used them yet.

My first experiment was a mix of Sapphire blue, burgundy and periwinkle. These were all Jacquard acid dyes. I wanted to try a mix of all over color like I did before but these were carefully chosen to not turn muddy where they came together. This was a very successful dye job and I am thrilled with the results.

Finished blue yarn. Not perfect but getting there. I haven't decided what I am going to make with it.

Finished blue yarn. Not perfect but getting there. I haven’t decided what I am going to make with it.









This week I decided to try a 3 color dye, dyed separately so I could blend them together on my blending board. I’m not very good a reading directions, preferring to just dive in and let the chips fall where they may. I used my 3 pot crockpot and after soaking the wool (about 4 ounces, divided into 3 hanks and tied with yarn to hold it together) I added a teaspoon of Dharma Trading Co acid dyes in Peach Blush, Duckling and Lichen. I had soaked the wool in a bowl of water with 1 ½ cups of vinegar. I got it all put together and turned on the crockpot and when to work (not a unsafe as it seems, I work from home)

The resulting wool was MUCH darker than I expected from the pictures on the website but they were really wonderful fall colors. I have them blended and am spinning them now. I am very pleased with the colors but they were so much darker than I thought they should be so I decided that maybe it was time to read the directions all the way through. OK, maybe I added too much dye.

The first darker batch of wool.

The first darker batch of wool.









On the blending board

On the blending board








The rolags that I am spinning from

The rolags that I am spinning from









So yesterday I did the math (their figures are based on a pound of wool or yarn) and found that I should have used a ¼ teaspoon of dye…. So back to the crockpot!

I did everything the same on this, used the same colors so I could see the difference and the same amount of wool. The difference was amazing. They colors are very much like the pictures on the website and very nice spring colors!!  I think I will blend these too so that I have a firm comparison.

2014-03-27 17.18.26







That got me to thinking about the color range you could achieve with just one dye color. I realize that this is probably not rocket science and that for people who dye all the time, well they probably already know this. But for beginners, this might be a huge deal; it was for me.

So this morning I got the 3 pot crockpot back out (seriously, this is the handiest thing for dying small batches and not having to hang over a pot for hours!) and put labels next to each pot with ¼ teaspoon, ½ teaspoon and 1 teaspoon. I am using Dharma Trading Co acid dye in “Fire Engine Red”.  I used 6 ounces of wool this time (South African corriedale) so I have 2 ounces in each pot.

Fast forward a few hours and I have 3 – 2 ounces lengths of red wool. The color change isn’t as strong as I thought it would be originally. I do like it and will certainly be able to use it for something.  I have some light patches and it may be because 1) I didn’t soak the wool as long as I usually do. I am going to start soaking over night from now on and 2) I think the size of the 3 small pots is too small for this much wool. Before this I was using 4 ounces total and the dyed wool was much more evenly colored.

Three shades "Fire Engine Red"

Three shades “Fire Engine Red”









I hope this might encourage you to try dyeing wool or yarn. It is so fun to do and so satisfying to knit something from yarn you dyed and spun yourself!

Tomorrow I am going to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle with my daughter and her husband. I hope to have some pictures by Monday or Tuesday.



What Not to Do When Dyeing Roving


OK, wow. It has been a long time since my last post. I have been VERY busy but things are calming down since Christmas so I will be writing a lot more.

A week or so ago, my sister and I went a little crazy ordering roving during the sale at Paradise Fibers and a lot of what I got was white roving of different breeds so that I could learn to do hand painted roving. I have dyed a lot of yarn and loved the results so I thought this would be a fun way to add to my spinning.  I need to say before I start that patience is not one of my virtues….

Here is a tip: Do not be either impatient or quick when you dye roving. Also, rubber gloves are strongly suggested. I don’t think I totally ruined 5 ounces of the South African wool but it was touch and go for a while. Next time I will certainly read the directions and maybe watch a video or 5 before starting. I have done this before, many many times with much success but it was with yarn. Roving behaves differently  and when I thought there wasn’t enough dye on it, I made more and kept pouring it on in a VERY random manner (leaving white areas that I figured would take up it excess …it did) . When I went to roll it up in the saran, the dye POURED out both ends all over everything. I finally got it under control and put it in the steam pot. I might have sworn then but I figured I was home free. (you know, I have done this many times blah blah blah)  Did I mention I couldn’t find any rubber gloves? Yeah. After getting it out of the steam pot. I let it cool and then ran it back to the shower to hang it to dry. It was at this point that I found all the dye had not set and was running all over the shower. With nothing to lose, I took the handheld shower head and sprayed it with warm water until it ran clear. If I don’t wind up with 5 ounces of felt I will be surprised.  It is now draining in the shower, looped over a hanger.  After rinsing, I liked the color better so maybe all is not lost.


This is what happens when you want to “just do a quick dye job to see how it looks” at the same time as I was trying to get things on my list taken care of (our power was out most of yesterday because of a wind storm so I was behind).  Next time I will set aside a whole day and do  nothing else, which is what I do when dyeing yarn.

Another thing I bought during the sale was 2 Louet S10 bobbins. They fit my Bea Classic spinning wheel very well and also give me different speeds (my wheel is 5:1).  My sister has a Louet and her flyer also fits my wheel, in case something horrible happens to mine. It is almost impossible to find parts for an old wheel so I am glad to have an option.

I hope everyone had a nice Holiday Season!


Art…or “What Happened to the Dream”


This blog started off being just snippets of my life, my knitting, my spinning and maybe even blogs when we finished a project in what has to be the longest remodel EVER!  As the months have past by, I find I am spending a lot less time on all of those wonderful things and much more time spent bent over my keyboard working….  Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to work from home but it does tend to take over my whole day.

As an example: I have a very strong wish to be able to do art more often and do a little every day. How hard can that be, right? A little work on an art journal page, an ATC (Artist Trading Card)…anything that would be artistic on a daily basis. Soooooo, I gathered a lot of small art supplies together in a box. The box overflowed to a larger box to the point where I finally bought one of those plastic 3 drawer units with wheels, thinking that I could just pull it up to my desk and it would all be nice and tidy. This worked once. Just once. Apparently these units have a weight limit and I had packed mine WAY too full and promptly broke off one of the wheels……. So not much art has been done. Did I mention that this drawer unit is sitting right next to my spinning wheel? Yes, well it is getting about as much use as the rolling art kit. The various knitting projects are piled on top off my rolling cart that I keep files in for work. I look at them in the morning as I clear it off and again at night as I pile everything back on at the end of my work day (I work 9-10 hours a day).

I haven’t figured out a way to work in a little creative time yet. The simple thing would be to get up earlier in the morning but while it always seems like the perfect answer at night, it never seems like a good idea in the morning.  And of course there is the stupid practical jobs like cleaning or working in the yard. I always feel like I SHOULD do those first but rarely do them at all.

I admire other people whose blogs I read at night (we are talking 1am here, not in the evening when I could be doing art or cleaning) I’m sure there are other blogs that are saying the same thing I am but the blogs I read are about totally together folks who can somehow find the time to do everything and always have time to do art or knit a sweater in 3 days. They say they also work full time… so there must be a way.

I did manage to dye some wool. I bought this wool on eBay (it is 10 pounds!) and the ad said:

Organically processed New Zealand wool, from Romney sheep, cleaned and carded. Approximately ten pound bags. We will box and ship to 48 States for a flat $10.00 per ten pound bag fee. $45.00

I was very excited to be getting so much wool for not very much money. I guess you get what you pay for because when it came it was more like polyester batting than nice clean wool. It is very clean but almost impossible to spin. It is possible that if I had a drum carder, I might be able to make it into something that can be spun but they are expensive so I don’t think I will go that route. I did find that it felts almost immediately and while it will take some time to go through that much, I think most will be used for felting. I had some jars of mixed Jacquard acid dyes from doing some hand painted yarns and so I took each one, poured it in the crock pot and added some extra water. Each color came out really well and I am going to make some beads first. I made one out of the purple batch (I know it looks blue in the photo but it really is dark purple).  The reason I did it in the crock pot is because I was working and I can just walk away from it and go check in a few hours. I understand that crock pots are used for cooking food and that people actually cook dinner in them…these people must not have any good take-out options….I use mine for dyeing!!

This really is purple, not sure why it looks blue. I am the felted bead.

This really is purple, not sure why it looks blue. I am the felted bead.

Well, this got pretty wordy so I’ll sign off for now.