Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Superwash Dyeing Adventures

I dyed the superwash merino from Woodland Woolworks last week.
This was quite the adventure. I've dyed superwash wool once before, and learned that the dye strikes faster, and that much more dye is needed, but I had no idea how much more for this roving. I used Kool-Aid, in various reds, using the cold pour method. I unwrapped and recoiled the roving into two twists, about 4 oz each.

Unwrapped and Coiled Soaked and Ready
I covered my kitchen table in newspaper and plastic wrap. I mixed up Black Cherry, Berry Cherry, Orange/Cherry, Berry Blue/Cherry/Neon McCormicks Purple, Strawberry. The food dye cup got a little extra vinegar.
I was going for a progression of reds, from the orange end to the purple. I laid the wet roving out in long zigzags, poured the colors, flipped the whole thing over, and poured more. I was stunned at how fast the color took. Almost immediately, the extra liquid running off was clear, and there were a lot of white spots on the underside when I flipped it. After I was done, I wrapped the roving in two packages, and microwaved it. Two minutes, rest two minutes, repeat twice, until the packages were puffed up a little. I set the packages to cool overnight, and cleaned up (big mistake, I poured out the extra Kool-Aid).

Supplies and cooling roving.
Note the bottle of Baileys. I'm adding this to my list of needed supplies for late night dyeing.

The next morning, I unwrapped and inspected my job. Ack! What I thought were round lengths of roving were actually flat strips with the edges rolled in. Lots of white appeared.

This red, white and blue crap? Not the look I was going for.

Time to overdye. Since I had poured out the dye from the first round, I mixed more. I was running seriously low, and couln't get to the store to get more. So I decided to treat each half a little differently. The first batch I laid out and repeated the cold pour method. The rest of it I dyed in a hybrid immersion/hot pour technique. I mixed some Berry Cherry in a pot of cold water with a little extra red food dye and vinegar, added the roving, and brought it to a simmer. After the dye exhausted, I poured different mixes of Orange, Cherry, and Neon McCormicks, letting each exhaust before pouring the next. Once the water was clear, I turned it off, and let it cool.

In the pot
(ignore the yellow center, that's the lightbulb reflecting)


Amazingly, the two batches look remarkably similar. I was getting really stressed out over finding a few more white/pink splotches after all this. Margene's post on Zen-like spinning really came to my rescue. I have decided that I am going to do this for the process, and enjoy learning and developing my skills. Probably a good idea for someone who's spun a grand total of about 200 yards ever.

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