Friday, May 18, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday, 5/18/2012 (Adventures in Dyeing!)

So, at Maryland Sheep and Wool, I bought this fleece!

Her name is Irmalinda. My goal, over the summer, is to prepare either half or all of these fleece (I haven't decided quite yet - I need to get a scale and check a few things) by taking it from raw Irmalinda with tags and all to pretty dyed and spun yarn. In preparation for that, I split the fleece up into bags of from 4 to 6 ounces of fiber, and then I took one of those that had a fairly nice section of the fleece and did the whole process with just that section. First, I soaked it for 24 hours with a bunch of dish soap to get the gunk out.

That's a LOT of dirt! I used the water for my plants. :) Next step after that was to let it dry, and then I used hand combs to comb it out.

It takes about 10 minutes to comb about a half ounce of fiber. I'm left with this:

Two little mini balls, and then up top, a bunch of little ends and kinky bits and pieces that aren't adequate. This was my first mini-balls - this one I spun just to see how it would go.

I also taught myself to Navajo ply with this, which was easier than I thought, except I don't QUITE have the hang of it and keep overspinning it. Anyway. ;) I prepared the rest of the fiber, and then with five of the mini-balls that I had, I decided to make my first attempt at dyeing the yarn! Towards that end, I improvised a scale because it's 1 ounce of Kool Aid to 1 ounce of fiber, but my scale isn't working (I'm trying new batteries and if that doesn't work, I'll buy a new one).

Since I knew the weight of each Kool Aid packet, I used a simple balance scale to measure out Kool Aid equal to the weight of the fiber! (though that's uncombed fiber, not one of my mini-balls). I then prepared it all in a pot! To keep the fiber from getting all tangled with itself, I put a jar in the middle, and decided to use that jar for dyeing, too!

In the jar, I put one packet of Tropical Punch; in the main pot, I put 3 lemonades, 1 orange, and 1 cherry. However, as it turns out, the lemonade is WAY too light, so the yellow virtually doesn't show at all. The orange and the cherry took pretty well, though, and the Tropical Punch went excellently.

This is the "top" and the "bottom" of the four balls I put in the main pot. In total, I ended up with...

Because of the way I layered everything, the mini-balls went from lightest (top) to darkest (bottom); and then here was my pure red/orange tropical punch ball. I decided to spin them all together and go with the color gradient! Then, I tried Navajo plying again. It didn't go particularly better than the first time, but practice makes perfect, right?

66 yards of three ply right around lace weight. Oops, too thin!

Want to try dyeing? Here's what I've figured out:
1. Use more dye than you think you need. Seriously. The rule of thumb is 1 ounce of Kool Aid to 1 ounce of fiber, but I think a little more might be better (if you want the colors saturated, anyway).
2. For Kool Aid, you don't need to add vinegar, and as far as I can tell the amount of WATER in the pot doesn't matter, it's the amount of fiber compared to the amount of dye.
3. The candy thermometer was invaluable. I'd never have been able to figure out the right temp with out it. For wool, the goal is right around 170 degrees.
4. It took about 45 minutes of soaking at the temperature to soak up all the Kool Aid dye.
5. The color didn't run at all, and I was lazy and didn't rinse it. This seems to be okay, except that my yarn REALLY smells like Kool Aid.

To top things off, yesterday I tried using Wilton's Gel Dyes instead (it just takes so damn much Kool Aid!). I'm still waiting for it to dry, so I'm not sure yet if I accidentally felted the fiber I was using (this time using fiber I bought not fiber I prepared). I'll write up more about this some other time - maybe next week.

Want to read more amazing? You should go to Wisdom Begins in Wonder and Tami's Amis and other Creations!

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