Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Second experiment, dyeing wool roving.

For this project I made up two quart jars full of the Ciba Kitron dyes, in a blue and yellow. I used 1 cup of water, 3 tsp of vinegar, and 1/2 teas of dye powder. I prewetted a Border Leichester lambswool roving in a medium grey/brown color, about 4 oz worth, and layered half of that in an oval turkey roaster. I squirted blue and yellow dye in random areas on this roving. The color areas were not real big or saturated, but I did do alot of them. I put a second layer of wet roving on top of that, and repeated the process. I put the roaster lid on and put this into a low heat oven (around 250 degrees) for about an hour. Then I eased hot water into the roaster, rinsing the wool. Eventually I put the roving in the sink and immersed in water until there was no color run. I picked up the roving, squeezed it, and wrapped it in a towel. That went into a mesh bag, and was briefly spun in the washer's spin cycle. It is amazing how dry the roving comes out. I lay it on a mesh sweater drying rack to completely dry.
The color was nice but timid. I also know that really the wool should be totally immersed in water while in the oven. Although I could not smell the wool, indicating the oven was too hot, the roving was dry on top, and that could not have been a good thing.
The second 4 oz of the roving I prewetted, and divided this in two, to try to different methods. Both involved laying the roving on saran wrap. On the first I squirted blue on one end of the roving and yellow on the other, wrapped it up and smashed it with my fingers to mix the dyes. On the second, I stripped blue over the whole long length of the wet roving, and then yellow over that, wrapped it up and mashed it with my fingers. Then I rolled these up into little packets, and placed them on the rack in a canner, over boiling water, to steam for about 45 minutes. One thing I realized too late, after I was rinsing them, was I should have turned the packets over now and then, because the dye pooled on the bottom of the packet. The rovings rinsed clear though, and was given the same drying treatment as above. I like the results of both of these methods.
The final method used leftover orange dye from the angora dye project, and the grey lambswool. I prewetted four oz of the roving in a sink full of water with vinegar, and a drop of dishsoap. I have a very large kettle (fondly called my cauldron, by my daughter) that I filled half full of water, and dumped the orange dye in that. Now I realize none of this is exact. The original orange dye was very over saturated, but it was made with one cup water, 3 tbs vinegar, and 1/2 teas of dye powder. That was what I put in what I would estimate to be about 2 gallons of water in my cauldron. I test dipped a piece of the roving, and decided I wanted to add a little yellow to the dye, so I added 1/8 teas yellow to the pot. When this was mixed, I put my roving into it, and brought it up to a simmer. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes and then fished the roving out of the pot, without dumping the dye, and rinsed it several times until no color ran. It was a lovely bright bittersweet color, very autumnal! I prewetted another 4 oz of the same roving, and put it in the pot, and let that simmer for 30 minutes. When I rinsed that, there was hardly any run off, although there was still color in the pot. The color was a lovely old gold, and matches the first roving nicely.
After giving everything a towel drying, and a quick tumble in the spin cycle, it was all spread out over two sweaters mesh drying racks. I loved the way it looked.
I was so inspired I had to go on and do a white roving that was given to me in an exchange. My hopes were to get a variegated purple color. This roving seems to be part wool and part mohair, and had a lovely shine to it. The dyes I used were the blue and red I had made to try and dye angora. I prewet the roving and again layered it in the turkey roaster. This time I did not squeeze any water out of the roving, so it was wetter than the original attempt. I mixed about 1/3 red and 2/3 blue dye together in a small plastic container, this was eyeballing the color each time. I poured this in large areas on the roving, not really completely saturated the roving with color, but not being quite as hesitant as I was in the first attempt. By making the purple up in small amounts, I did not get the exact shade of purple each time, adding variations to the colors. I used up about half of the available dye, and then layered the rest of the wet roving on top, and put the small batches of purple dye on that. By now the roaster was about half full of water, and held an amazing 8 oz of roving. When I had used up all the dye, I went to the sink and gently filled the roaster with enough water to cover the roving, and put it in a warm oven, for an hour. The immediate color I saw, when I added the water was cranberry, and I put that roving in the oven with a small sigh of disappointment, thinking that by putting all that water in, I had undone my purple. But when I pulled the roaster out of the oven, and looked at the water, it was purple! And when I poured off the water, and started rinsing the roving, I had many lovely variations of darker purples on a solid light purple roving. Now and then there were spots of pure blue or even lighter cranberry. Again after rinsing, I gently squeezed out the roving, rolled in a towel and put in a mesh bag to quickly spin in the spin cycle. I spread it out on the mesh drying rack, doing the happy, I got purple dance.
This was a roving I just could not stop looking at that night!
Next installment: The final luxury, dyed silk


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