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.
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:
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:
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!