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Archive for February, 2009

So, there’s lots of different dyeing techniques…

Here are two that I read about on the Ravelry forums and would like to try at some point and don’t want to forget…

from Post #8 in the Stinky Wool thread (must be logged in to Ravelry.com from preceding link to work) on the Dying to Learn Dye! Restaurant group at Ravelry, Maddie writes (in regards to dyeing raw fleece):

… basically take a big canner pot and pack in your wool locks so that they are butt end up. I think you could do it either way, but that worked best so that the dirt fell down towards the tips, where most of the dirt is. You pack the locks tightly enough so that they don’t flop over and they stay intact. When you think it’s good, you take the fibers back out, and put in water the same height as the locks were. Add a healthy squirt of Dawn. This aides in wetting out the fibers, and also helps to clean them. Add a good half of a cup of vinegar. Re-insert the fibers. The water should come just up to the butt ends of the fleece, but no higher. Put on the stove, and start to gently heat the pot. DO NOT BOIL. If you boil, you can damage the wool, and it will be “crispy”. (You can guess how I know this. LOL) If it simmers you will also probably get what I call “the cone of bubbles”. It’s kind of like a volcano of bubbles. While you are heating, you take any powdered acid dye, I use Cushing, and sprinkle on the dye in a section. You can use about 4 colors, but 2 or 3 are better. Try to keep the dye in it’s own section. It will start to blend and overlap as it heats. I find that it’s really best to use colors that won’t muddy. For example, don’t use green and red; too much brown will result. It’s better to use blue and red and let the middle blend to purple. Heat to just under a simmer and keep it there for about 20-30 minutes. You can manipulate the dye a bit with the end of a wooden spoon or whatever other dye tool you use. Just try not to get a real liquidy puddle; the goal is to have the fiber packed in enough so that the water doesn’t shift a lot. When done “cooking”, take the whole pot out to the garage or outside. Leaving the lid on, put it on the cement to cool. Leave over night. In the morning the dye should be exhausted and now the whole thing is cool enough to rinse in cold water.

I asked whether she thought, instead of using powdered dyes it would be OK to use liquid base dyes instead. She replied that it would probably work, but she thinks that the powdered dye tends to stay in one place a bit more.

Here’s another interesting idea for making semi-solid kettle dyes, posted by mrslevite in Post #6 of the thread “Is it possible to make a semisolid while handpainting?” in the group “Love to Dye”.

For more solid semi-solids, kettle dye, adding color to the fiber or yarn before adding any heat or acid. Gently lift or move the the yarn or fiber to let the color reach all parts. Let it sit for a while. Then you can start adding heat.

I asked about when to add acid and she replied:

I bring it up to the temp for about 20 minutes or so – if I’m that patient – then add acid and keep it up to temp for 10-20 minutes longer – or until I remember to turn off the heat. I usually dye in the crockpot, so I don’t worry about cooking it too long.

I have resisted the whole crockpot thing for dyeing so far. Not sure if I will give in at some point…?

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Washing raw fleeces

Well, in December I actually bought a raw fleece. A shetland fleece from a wether name Kalus who lives near Reno, NV.

Here’s a picture of Kalus:

Kalus a shetland

The shepherdess had cold-water washed/soaked the fleece. It arrived in kind of a jumble:

Kalus shetland fleece

Well, Shetlands don’t have much lanolin, and this fleece smells nice and sheepy. Not stinky. The fleece doesn’t seem dirty as such (probably due to the cold-water soak/wash), but there is what seems to me (with my zero experience) to be a moderate amount of VM (Vegetable Matter) in the fleece.

I bought some John Day hand carders and am trying to learn how to hand card rolags. The main problem I’m having is that even though a fair amount of VM falls out when I hand pick some fleece and then even some more falls out when I card it, there is some remaining in the carded rolags and when I spin it (I have only done a few rolags, and spun even fewer…just as a test/sample), the VM seems to stick in the fleece and I have to slow down to pick it out. Just slows down the spinning and makes it less efficient and flowing.

So, after reading a bit in the Ravelry forums, someone gave me the idea that washing the lanolin completely out (i.e. a hot washing/scouring) might help the VM come out more easily. Maybe it’s staying in because it’s sticking to the lanolin.

So I have come to the idea to wash up a bit of this fleece, and hand card and spin that and see if it works out better for me. Here are some good articles on hand scouring/washing fleece that I am saving for my reference:

Washing &  Spinning Cormo Locks and Other Fine Wools by Beth Smith at KnittySpin

unicorn fiber power scour versus dawn in raw fleece washing from sock prØn’s blog

Washing Fleeces: How Not to Felt Your Fleeces by Gwen Powell

In the meantime, I’ve also bought a small cormo lambs fleece that is also waiting to be washed and processed. I keep seeing more fleeces I want to buy, but until I get these two done, I’m telling myself, “No!” Although I have reserved 2 fleeces for March 2010 by sponsoring 2 of the sheep at Little Meadows Farm: Kira (a Jacob) and Geode (a Corriedale/Jacob cross).

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