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Dyeing Spun Wool Evenly

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Wool overdyed red

This wool was dyed after spinning. Using a few simple rules, you can achieve an evenly dyed yarn every time!

This is the yarn I began with, an orange wool/silk mix. It was spun and plied into a 2 ply yarn. You can use the following instructions with any animal fibre.

Step 1: Weigh your yarn and tie it into skeins. You’ll need at least 4 ties on each skein.

Step 2: Soak your yarn in lukewarm water and leveling agent for a minimum of one hour. I use a teaspoonful of ordinary dishwashing liquid as the leveling agent for every 100gm of yarn.
Step 3: Weigh out enough of your dyestuff for the shade of colour you want. Mix it following the instructions on the container.Some dyes will ask you to add acetic acid, vinegar or other ingredients. I usually use Landscapes dyes by Kraftkolour which already have the additives in them. Always wear a dust mask when mixing powdered dyes.
Step 4: You will need approximately 30 times the amount of liquid as the weight of your yarn. At this stage your water should be at room temperature.Using metric measurements comes in handy at this stage because one litre of water weighs 1 kilogram, so for every 100gm of yarn you will need 3 litres of liquid.Measure out your liquid (including your dye) and pour it into your dyepot. Stir the dye through the water thoroughly. (Note: You should keep all of your dye pots etc for dyeing only).

Gently squeeze the excess water out of your yarn and lower it into the dyepot. Swirl it through the dye to make sure all of the yarn has soaked up at least a small amount of colour. The dye won’t have penetrated the yarn yet, you just want to make sure that all of the yarn has come into contact with it.

Step 5: Turn on the heat and bring the temperature up to a slight boil, just past a simmer. You don’t want a rolling boil unless you want to felt your yarn.

Whilst the temperature is increasing, gently stir your yarn through the dye, very slowly. Turn it occasionally if some of the skein sits above the liquid as mine does in the photograph on the left.

Step 6: When your yarn has drawn up enough of the dye for the colour you want, turn off the heat and let the dyepot cool down. Rinse your yarn in water that is the same temperature as your yarn with a little laundry detergent added. The laundry detergent will assist in removing any excess dye.

Rinse in clear water the same temperature as your yarn. Repeat until the water remains clear. If your yarn feels a little stiff you can add some hair conditioner to the final rinse.

Step 7: Spin the excess water out of your yarn using your washing machine, or if you need to do it by hand, squeeze the excess water out, roll in a towel and press firmly.

Dry the skeins according to your preference (you may want to block singles or novelty yarns for example). I just laid mine flat to dry over the rack shown in the photo of the finished yarn.

Copyright © November 25th 2003 Sarah Bradberry

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