Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dying (some of) All the Fleeces

While some folks might like the yellowed colour of these fleeces, I'm planning to dye most of it.
I've not had much luck in the past (once) with dying fleece (was white romni), so I've avoided dying it. Mostly, of course, I've been purchasing lovely roving/batts dyed by other talented fleece artists. This won't change.
However, I'm going to have to take my dying skills up a notch. I don't expect myself to spin all the yellowed fleeces into yarn and THEN dye it. That would be far too boring.
Plus, I might want to needle felt some of it.

Dying the fleece is a skill I need to learn.

I'm starting simple with what I know and what I have the tools for - food colouring and vinegar dying.  I'm going to need to collect other kitchen tools if I want to use not-food-safe methods. I'm sure I'll get there by the time I'm done with All The Fleeces.

I prepped a bucket of Fleece 1 - the fluffy fleece - by combing it. As usual, the middle where I hold the fleece locks remains quite sticky with lanolin, so I gave it all another hot wash along with some combed black fleece locks.
The black fleece has not been in hot water or soap yet and I found that when I combed this batch it definitely needs a hot wash if I want to spin this lace easily.

Ready for a bath.
 After a rinse, it was time to prep the dye water. A little orange Wiltons paste in a glass bowl with vinegar added goes a long way.  This is a large and deep bowl. Fortunately, we have a very large microwave. Yes, I chose the fastest heat-set method for this test.

Fluffy! Even when wet.

All soaked.
After several 2 minute rounds in the microwave (and then another set of rounds with more vinegar added because the dye didn't seem to be taking as well as I would like) it was time to spin dry. Oh, first I drained the dye water and rinsed the orange fleece back in the first rinse bath - which was clean enough.  I don't have  a salad spinner and I'm pretty certain it would be a bad idea to toss a recently dyed fleece into my washing machine to spin dry (orange spots on DH's white shirts?). Plus, that sounded like a waste of electricity for such a small amount of fluff.
I did it the manual way! Spin it in the sack!

 The "black" fleece locks are looking lovely. (I should stop calling them that, even if they were labelled as such.)

The orange fleece is looking scrumptious!

Ooops, a couple of small sections were hiding in the wash bags. They'll find their way into the next dye bath once I have confirmed that I didn't create a matted mess. So far it looks fine. I'm excited for it to dry. Right now.

Spun up as 120m of squishy, worsted-weight-ish yarn. About 15m of it is a beaded 3-ply using a very finely spun portion of the wool to hold the size 8/0 beads.  The first 22m section was plied with some of the natural yarn (same fleece) that was sitting around on a bobbin.

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