I don’t guess this blog will have any kind of order to it, any rhyme nor reason. I’ll just write about what I’m doing or thinking about at the time . . .
So here we go.
Another thing I couldn’t wait to learn, right after spinning, was dyeing. You can’t really make a mistake – it is kind of like tie dying a T-shirt – you don’t know what you’ll end up with until you’re done but the results are always good.
For breeders of fiber animals that are looking for ways to sell your fiber, this is one way to add value to your fiber without adding much expense. Natural colors are beautiful – and alpacas have 22 of them – but oh, there are so many others! I have tried kool-aid dyeing but then I found Gaywool and love it, so I’ve stuck with it. Gaywool dye comes from Australia, is very safe to use, and has both the mordent and dyebath acidifier, which is all that is necessary to produce true-to-type, color-fast dyeing.
Gaywool comes in over 50 different colors. The Original colors are vibrant hues and Bush Blends are more subtle colors that you might find in nature.
Though there are a variety of methods, dyeing in a pot is probably the simplest, especially if you are just learning.
I begin by weighing my fiber or yarn and I don’t usually dye more than a pound at a time. When dyeing fiber, I use zippered lingerie bags to contain it. If dyeing yarn, it should be skeined and tied loosely in four places. I then soak the fiber or yarn in warm water with a bit of detergent added to it. This allows the scales to open and be ready to accept the dye. Soak for at least 15 minutes.
It is not necessary to wash the fiber first, there will be plenty of rinsing after it is dyed.
Place your yarn or bags of fiber in your dye pot and fill it about half full. It makes no difference how much water you use as long as you use enough dye stuff for the amount you are dyeing. Be sure there is enough water so that you can turn the fiber over easily. Place on stove and bring water up to steaming, just below a simmer.
Measure the dye stuff and dissolve in warm water. One capful of is enough to dye approximately 4 ounces of fiber, rovings, or yarn. I recycle dish detergent bottles and use them for mixing the dye. Fill the bottle about half-way with warm water and using a funnel, add the dye stuff. If you are doing a pound of fiber, you will need 4 capfuls. Once dissolved add to dyebath and stir gently so that it is evenly dispersed.
Keep the dyebath just under a boil for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool completely. This may take the rest of the day or overnight. Don’t rush it! This allows the dye to be fully exhausted.
Remove and rinse the dyed fiber thoroughly in warm water. Do not allow water ro run directly onto it, this can cause felting. Fill your sink or bucket, allow it to soak, then using up and down motion rinse fiber, empty sink, refill, repeat process until water in sink is clear.
Squeeze out excess water. Wrap in a towel to absorb excess moisture. Hang yarn to dry. Lay fiber on screens or skirting table to try. Circulation above and below fiber is best to allow fiber to dry more quickly.
Relax and have fun – you’ll love the colors you can produce!
Gaywool Dyes are available in The Farm Store on our website. They come in jars of 100 grams (3.52 ounces) and 80 grams (3.82 ounces). I also have made up Try Gaywool Dye kits which include three different colors, enough to dye 12 ounces of fiber or yarn, and a HandPainting Kit complete with dye stuff, bottles to mix in, rovings to dye, and instructions for handpainting.