Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dying Wool

How fun.
This was our first go.
As far as I can tell, it turned out alright.
The roving still seems fit to be spun (on our homemade drop spindle).

Here's how we played.

Everything I read said to start with an ounce of wool.

We put the wool into very warm water and let it sit for twenty minutes. For the blue, I just used a couple dozen drops of food coloring and some vinegar (1/2 cup or so?)...
I stirred the coloring and vinegar into the water pot,
we placed in the wool,
we set it on the stove on a medium-low temp, made sure it didn't boil (I read it could felt the wool if it boiled) and we let the wool soak up the coloring.
It took about twenty minutes before the water was clear (the wool soaks up the dye).
We put it in a warm (not hot) bath to cool it, then set it on towels and hung it to dry.
For Madeleine's and Trevelyn's wool, we used koolaid. Grape and lemon-lime.
We dissolved the koolaid in water, and after the wool had soaked in the warm bath for twenty minutes, we set it in the dye bath.
We put it on the stove top just as we did the food coloring, on low-medium heat for twenty minutes. (I read that you can take it in and out of the microwave every two minutes, but we don't have one, so.....)
We rinsed and finished as we did the others.

The next one I did was a koolaid and black cherry tea mixture. I love the color! It's the plumish rose color.

Another one I did just with the tea.
It's very light, but it's very pretty.

The last one I wanted a tri-colored yarn, so in a pie plate I spiraled the roving, and striped it with the tea, the blue vinegar mixture, and the purple koolaid.
Since I couldn't stove top it with out mixing up the colors, I placed it in the oven at about 380 for probably 35 minutes total.
I added more dying liquid a couple of times to darken the dyes and to make sure the wool wasn't drying.
It turned out beautifully!
No doubt professionals would gasp and sputter at our measures, as I am sure we didn't do it perfectly, but we need some lovely yarn for a project we'll be working on for Earth Scouts.
I'm very pleased with our colors, and can't wait to spin it for weaving.

Happy doing!


  1. I love the picture of the wool drying on the line! Gorgeous colours :)

  2. Fun stuff! Love all the colors, especially that Trev's green. You can tell him that I am a big fan too!

  3. I love the colors! I would love to make our own yarn, but not sure I'm up for spinning it all. Does it take a long time to spin? Maybe I'll just get natural yarn and dye it.

  4. Julie - I'm sure it will!
    I didn't dye enough for the whole thing, but I thought we could use some with whatever other yarn we chose.
    Buying natural yarn and dying it is a fine idea. :)

  5. Thank you so much for posting the instructions on how to do this! This may be a dumb question, but can you use that wool for felting?

  6. Sounds like fun! I've always been afraid to dye roving for fear of felting it. I might get brave now. ;) thanks!

  7. Marina - yeah.
    While I didn't dye all of my roving, I had the thought that if I ruined it for spinning, at least we could make something out of it (with felt) or something else! :)
    Felt is just the wool tangled and matted.
    It's much the same process, it's a matter of "working it" with your fingers to tangle it, from what I've read.
    Try it! :)

  8. SO cool... I'm going to try the cool aid. Just love all the colors (esp the Lime-green).

  9. Your wool turned out beautifully! I think most of the fun of dyeing wool is simply experimenting and seeing what you end up with. Its all good! Have fun spinning it up too and please do show us the results.

  10. fantastic! my hands want to reach in and needle felt the purplely one!


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!