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dyeing disaster recovery

Thanks to ilikecolors I now know that merino (especially superfine) is one of the most difficult fibers to dye, because it is the easiest to felt, of course! So I feel slightly less abashed at my cavalier efforts to dye it. But the pink roving was actually not quite as felted as I thought, and I was able to pull it apart and salvage some of it for spinning. Not the easiest drafting/spinning I’ve done so far, having to work around/with the felted parts, (velcro is right!) but still worth the effort, I think. The color is very fun, anyway… cherry kool-aid, 1/2 package per ounce of fiber.

hand spun and dyed merino yarn

I got about 35 yards of worsted weight out of it, which is not going to be enough for Mae’s slippers. Thanks to all of my lovely readers’ excellent advice, especially Empress Fibers, I decided to try again on another 2oz. of the roving left. I knew I couldn’t get the colors exactly the same, but maybe close enough that one could be used for the soles or the straps, etc. I didn’t have any more cherry kool-aid left, so I used tropical punch instead, and I tried to touch the roving as little as possible through the whole process, slowly and gently pushing it into the bowl that already contained the dye, only microwaving it for 1 minute, then 30 seconds, gently placing it in a container of warm water to rinse, only slightly squeezing it to remove some of the water, then draining it in a collander, before hanging it to dry (with a bowl underneath to catch the drips… there were a lot of drips!) I also did all this after the kids went to bed… to avoid more sets of playful fingers, mine were bad enough! Two days later it was finally dry, (I’m so tired of waiting for wool to dry!) and here are the results:

kool-aid dyed merino wool

Not bad! No real felting to speak of, just a tiny bit here and there. But the color didn’t soak in as much, I guess less agitation will do that. So maybe next time I will let it sit longer before heating up? I think it will be a close enough match to the yarn though:

kool-aid dyed merino roving and handspun yarn

As for the purple roving, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with that… probably a purple felted scarf. I pulled off some of the roving to make thrums for the slippers, but I don’t think there will be enough.

Meanwhile, Jonah has informed me that he wants REALLY long thrummed slippers. And his feet are getting enormous, almost a mens’ size. That means probably I will need around 400 grams of merino roving to make them. The thought of trying to dye all of that successfully and evenly has made me chicken out, so I’m going to cheat and buy pre-dyed roving. I found this really cool multi-colored English Garden merino (he wears a lot of blue and green) at Alpaca Direct. I’ve been wanting to give them some repeat business anyway for giving me that gorgeous teal merino for free with my drop spindle order. I’m hoping a pound will get the job done, with some left over for practice on my spinning wheel when it gets here (Monday!!!). And while I was at it, I thought I might as well take advantage of their free shipping offer and buy a pound of this amethyst color for Mae… either for her thrums, or even for her slippers as well if the pink doesn’t look like it’s going to work out (or if she commandeers it to knit with, as she has hinted) … or just for her to enjoy spinning with! Plus, I think just studying this will provide some dyeing knowledge/inspiration… it’s so interesting how there can be so many different colors, but it can still have one main color overall… like pixels in my Graphic Design day job. Color is SO fun!

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6 thoughts on “dyeing disaster recovery

  1. Heyy, great post and no problem! Anything else you need to know don’t hesitate to ask šŸ˜€ So pleased to be mentioned in your blog, haha. I love the colours in this roving, so pretty, and the yarn spun is great. It’s sort of mixed between colour and the paler bits which really stand out when plyed together. I need to start making something with my spun wool as at the moment all I seem to do is spin it and leave it! Just make sure you manage to make something for yourself too šŸ˜› Omg, your spinning wheel is here on Monday? I’m actually excited for you and can’t wait to see the pictures! Maybe next time you dye some fiber you could do a couple of colours at a time? All you would need to do is put some warm water in a bowl, then some dyes, then your fiber on top, and ever so gently pour the rest of the dyes on the top of the fiber. Squish down so all the fiber is in the dye, cover with cling film (I think it’s called shrink wrap in the US??), microwave for 2 mins, rest for 30 seconds, in for 30 secs. Wait for it to cool (leaving cling film on), and then rinse in the same way as before. The results are amazing, and not what you expect. The colours don’t really merge how you would expect, so it’s always different. Lol, sorry for long comment! Happy spinning!
    PS ( How is cashmere going? I haven’t got mine out yet šŸ˜¦ ) šŸ˜€

    • Thank you so much! I don’t mind long comments, and I love your ideas! I will definitely do a post about my spinning wheel… probably many. šŸ˜‰ I’m sure I will end up making something for myself again… probably out of cashmere or alpaca, which I haven’t spun any more of yet. No pressure on your cashmere, but I am excited to see it when you get to it. šŸ™‚

  2. That pink roving looks delicious – like candy floss! So sweet of you to mention me in your blog šŸ™‚ Glad to be of help! Excited to see the new thrummed slippers too šŸ™‚

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