Thursday, October 25, 2012

A present for my Mum

or dyeing wool, with pictures.

Food colouring (mine is from the supermarket)
Slow cooker
White vinegar

My base wool.  I bought a whole bag of mystery ply wool from the Hospice Shop a little while ago.  As you can see from the kinks in the wool, it was obviously from another project that has been frogged.  I had about 150g of it left, and it is most likely 4 ply.

First I skeined it around two chairs.  It pays to make this a bit bigger than you want a finished skein of wool to be, I'll explain why later.  Of course if you have some kind of fancy wool windery thing you could use that.  You can just see J's hands in the top of the photo threatening to cut things with scissors.

 I soaked the wool in a bucket of water with about 1/2 a cup of vinegar added.  I like to soak overnight, but a couple of hours will also do.

Then I dumped it into the slow cooker with some of the soaking water, some warm water, and another 3/4C of vinegar.  If you're mixing dyes, it pays to go easy on the vinegar, as more than 3/4C can make the dyes split, and you can get some unintended variegations.

Leave it in the slow cooker (with the lid on) until the water starts to steam - its a good idea to start with fairly warm water, otherwise this takes forever.  Don't use boiling water though, it might felt the wool.

Because my base was grey (and I knew from past experience with the yarn that it didn't take up dye all that well), I decided to go with a greyish blueish colour.

I mixed my dye together in a little container.

I then dumped all the dye into the slow cooker and poked it around so that all the wool got some.  I turned it down to low, and then turned it off and left the wool in the slow cooker overnight - you don't have to leave it this long, just until the water is clear.  But I knew that my wool may take a long time to soak up all the dye, and I didn't need the slow cooker for anything else.

I rinsed and then hung the wool up to dry.

Notice the interesting purple I got from my food colouring.  If you're looking for a really specific colour or combination with your dyeing, this method is not for you, its all a bit random.

Remember I said to make your skein a little big initially? Sometimes when the yarn comes out of the slow cooker, it looks blotchy - all the colour on a few patches.

It will always look better if you reskein it once its dry.  It just distributes the variegations better in the yarn.
 And there you have it.  Beautiful hand dyed yarn.

My Mum loved it, and I can't wait to see what she knits out of it.

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