Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dyeing Experiment

My guild had a Down breed fleece that no one wanted (it's old, dirty, and has a fair bit of VM).

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I took it home to use in dyeing experiments, and to play with using my new wool combs

I'm using Ashford wool dyes. My first dyeing experiment was quite a learning experience. I'm "in training" with this free fleece, and I'm trying to come up with colors and methods that will spin up into a reasonable facsimile of a pasture sheep might be standing in. This is for the background color in the "Shy Sheep Vest" which I want to start knitting in May. My first experiment involved dyeing clean locks and then combing them afterward.

I'm delighted with how beautifully this fleece is combing and spinning. How fortunate for me that no one else from the guild could be bothered with it! The locks are long and, with combing, all the VM everyone seemed to shy away from is just falling right out. The fleece also looks terribly dirty, but in a sink of hot water it practically melts away. Not a problem at all.

Anyway, back to the dyeing experiment. The dyed wool looked lovely and the 6 shades of green I mixed up were quite "grassy field-ish" looking.

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BUT, when I comb it it blends into one nearly solid color. The variation of course gets combed out. There are slight differences between one combful and the next, but not the kind of variety that I had in mind. Still, I'm not giving up on it. I'll see how it looks when spun.

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Meanwhile I think what I'll do is wash, dry, and comb a batch and then dye the coiled "nests" in the same manner that I had dyed the locks, (sprinkle dyed in a crockpot). Hopefully using this technique I will get more variation and a final result that looks more like the field I had imagined.


Melanie said...

I love the way the locks turned out. I hope that when you dye the combed nests they look just like the locks did before combing.

Claire said...

Ohhh, I love your results, and even better, you are making something out of nothing! I like the colour variations you are getting by the way. I think it would be VERY interesting when spun.

Rabbitch said...

Oh lovely! And isn't all this washing and dyeing and stuff FUN? Welcome to the messy side!

Marlene said...

Actually it IS more fun than I had expected. It must be....I'm drawn to that stinky fleece and don't really mind being up to my wrists in foul hot water filled with sheep wool and the occasional bug or hunk of poop.

Somehow I feel more like a "real" spinner too.

Rabbitch said...

That fleece is less filthy than some of the stuff I have here. It's most gratifying that even the first swish or two through the hot water and soap will take out most of the "ook" and make it look like "real" wool (and reduce the funky smell markedly).

The good thing about that fleece, if I understand Downs breeds correctly, is that it will be difficult to felt. You can abuse it pretty badly before it will object.

My Cheviot and Dorset are the same, for which I thank FSM on a daily basis, considering what I put the poor things through. (I even walk on it when it's in the tub to squish more of the crap out of it!)