Cheatin’ and Dyein’ Part II

How much of my chores have gotten done so far?  Not much.  I cleaned off the bar, but only to be able to fit the cooker on it.  So I guess that is something!  I probably could have had it all done by now……..

Every time I walk past that stainless steel basin of wet wool, I get this great whiff of sheepy-ness.  It’s not a bad smell, just earthy and sheepy.  I was feeling a bit intimidated by why color choice to make.  This is supposed to be fun, but on the other hand, I don’t want to waste 6 oz. of prime roving on a pukey color either.  And I don’t want to rely on the same old colors I seem to fall back on.  What I have found is that it is best not to have a specific idea in mind for color.  A general impression is best.  Colors will mix and surprise you no matter how much control you try to have over it.  You just have to let them be and they will be beautiful no matter what.  And probably a combination you hadn’t planned will come out that is better than what you originally had in mind.

This is my magical dye box.  It smells like candy when you open it.

The roaster is loaded with a baking dish with the roving in it.  It also has several pints of water between the roaster and the baking dish.  This wool will steam once the lid is on.  It is that steaming and the vinegar added to the dyes that will lock the colors in.

The way the roving is placed in the tray makes a difference to the finished yarn also.  I first had it in the pan in an up and down placement.  This would have created a striping yarn.  I want a more random effect for this one, so I started from the outside and went round and round until it finished in the middle.

These are the jars of water with glugs of vinegar and dye in them.  In the middle is a plate with coffee filters just to test the colors.  Not very pretty like this, but it gives some idea of what is going on with the color and what will happen when they mix.  For instance, the second from the left is a greenish brown.  The first mix was really green, and I did not want that, so I was able to fix it before dumping it onto the wool.

Colors applied to the wool.  No, I don’t just dump it on.  I used a spoon to put the colors where I wanted them.  A turkey baster is best for this job, but I don’t have one.  What is going on underneath the wool is entirely different that on top.  There is more liquid underneath, so the colors will be mixing in a way that I cannot see and cannot control.  The white spots you can see on top will fill in as the wool steams.

For those of you worried about your next Christmas ham or Thanksgiving turkey at our house to come out of this roaster, don’t!  These are food dyes and no more harmful than eating a pink or green frosted cupcake.  Professional dyes should be used in separate cookware and with designated utensils.

Colors do lighten when the wool is spun.  The fibers are pulled apart which makes the color seem lighter, so depending on what you are looking for in your yarn, a darker roving will make a lighter yarn.  A lighter dyed roving will make a pale yarn.

So the basic idea here is this:

dye + acid (vinegar) + heat + wool = color safe (color won’t run) dyed wool

I think it is important to note that heat + wool does not = felting.

heat + cold + agitation + heat + cold = felted mess.

So your wool sweater felts in the wash because you use warm water and agitation to wash, cool or cold and agitation to rinse.  The hot and cold shock the fibers and the agitation whips them together into a felted mess.  Then you make mittens out of your newly felted sweater.  But that was an earlier post.

You know, this is a bit of a risk to post this as it happens.  This roving could come out to be some pretty hideous color, and I will have to show you anyway.  A smarter way to do this would be to post after it was done.  Oh well.  We’ll find out together I guess!

Oh…and how do we know when it is done?  The water in the baking dish will be clear.  This means the fiber will have soaked up all the color leaving only clean clear water behind.  Cool, huh?

See you this afternoon when the roving is done cooking!

The wooden spoons underneath the cooker are because my counter top is not level.  An egg placed on the bar will roll off and hit the floor.  I want the cooker level so that all the dye stays where I put it and not all toward the front.  Although that might be interesting for another dyeing day.  One color on the roving, but tilted so that the wool in front would have a greater saturation of color than the wool in the back.  Oh no, I can see it coming already………

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One thought on “Cheatin’ and Dyein’ Part II

  1. Wow. That’s a great looking cooker. Wait a minute. Isn’t that MY cooker? The very cooker that will cook our upcoming Easter ham?! So we will have ham and roving strands? Well, I guess we’ll have plenty of fiber. Heh.

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