So a few people wanted to know how I dyed my recent roving (for spinning). I am by no means an expert, I’ve only done 3 different kinds and I learn something new each time! I taught myself through watching numerous videos on youtube, reading many different tutorials on Ravelry and on the internet, and then through my BFF CherrySprinkle aka September Pixie aka Nina and her experiences with dying wool roving!
But enough jibber jabber, lets get to dying…this is a very photo heavy post because I wanted to try to show as much as I could for you!! Like I said I am no expert and am still in the learning phase, but this is the process that has been working for me!
- Bare wool roving (kool aid only dyes on natural animal fibers)
- Kool-aid, in whatever shades you like
- Newspapers/disposable cups/plastic wrap
- Strainer/pot for the stove with about 1 inch of water in it
- Something to squirt the dye onto the fiber, I use a turkey baster
So first here is the bare roving, kool-aid, my work surface, and pots:
1. First you have to soak the roving in hot water. I put just a splash of vinegar in the water as well…I don’t know if this does anything to it but I like to think it helps the color absorb better! DON’T swish it or ring it or anything! If you are using regular wool it will felt. I use hot water, not lukewarm. All you have to do is gently push the fiber under the water so it starts soaking it up.
2. While this is soaking I like to start mixing my colors. The kool-aid mix I found works well is 1/3 cup of vinegar to each packet you use. I usually use 2 packets for each color and then 2/3 cup of vinegar. I only had 1 packet of strawberry so I mixed in 1/3 cup of vinegar. Otherwise I used 2 packets of grape and 2 packets of pink lemonade. Then stir them really really well!! BE CAREFUL with this stuff!! It will stain!! Don’t wear clothes you care about, be careful of where you do it at in case it spill on the counter/floor, use caution!
3. After the wool has soaked for about 15-20 minutes press out all the water, gently!! DON’T ring it out DON’T squeeze! I usually put it in a strainer and just press down with my hand. It doesn’t have to be completely dry but try not to have it soaking wet. Then lay it out on your plastic wrap (that’s on top of newspaper) and this time I put it in a circle, you can put it in a serpentine like shape (back and forth in rows) or however you want! Be creative!!
4. Now comes the best part! Just start dying it. Use your imagination. I always have a cup of regular water too to rinse out the baster in between colors to prevent them from mudding up. I usually always leave some space in between each color unless you are ok with the colors bleeding, which they probably will. I don’t mind some white in my colorways though. Add just enough color, not too much, if you over saturate you will definately have a huge mess and your colors will likely allll pool together. You don’t have to use every drop of dye, use just what you like. Remember a lot of color falls underneath the roving so it may look bare on top but on the bottom it’s fully soaked. It took me a couple tried to get this just right. Don’t be afraid to mess up, just learn from it!! *I usually start my water simmering to get the steam ready before I start dying so that by the time I’m done dying the roving the pot is ready!*
5. When you’re all done with that start wrapping it up like a package in the saran wrap. I pull the top and bottom sides over first and seal it (there should be 2 pieces of saran wrap down on the newspaper sealed on the underneath part to prevent leakage) lightly press down to get rid of any air. Then bring up each side and seal. Then roll it up gently so it looks like a little rump roast being careful not to break any of the seals. Plus there will be steam in it so a little breathing room is nice!
6. Then carefully place it into the strainer in the pot. I place a cover on it and turn the stove all the way down to a 2 or so. Just enough to keep the water at a simmer enough to cause steam. Don’t make it too hot, this could cause felting as well! Then just walk away…well not too far! Always keep an eye on it, making sure there’s steam but not too much and BE CAREFUL! Everything will be super hot, steam is terrible and can burn you! I usually wait about 30 minutes or so and then check it, I use a tongs to pull up on the saran wrap carefully, if there is no more dye stuck to the wrap it’s good!! All of the dye should soak into the fibers.
7. I then very very carefully transfer the entire strainer to the sink. I use a potholder and the tongs to do this. The saran wrap and strainer will be extremely hot!! I then use the tongs to gently unwrap the fiber so it is out of the saran wrap completely. It needs to cool down before rinsing it. I usually drape it over the sides of the strainer because it cools wayyyy faster than if it sat in a big pile in the bottom of the strainer. But just try not to agitate the wool too much.
8. After the fiber has cooled enough to handle gently rinse it under water that is about the same temperature, I usually use leukwarm to cool as I let my fiber cool quite a bit. You don’t need to rinse too much and you should notice the water runs through clear. If it doesn’t you will need to steam longer as the fiber didn’t soak up all the dye. Then gently press it with your hand to rid of any extra water.
9. Now it’s time to dry it! I usually put mine out on my deck to dry, today I was hanging clothes out and it was 100 degrees so I was able to drape it over the clothes line. You can hang it in your shower, over your sink…where ever you need to so it can dry and you don’t care if it gets wet underneath!
10. Then you wait, wait until it’s dry. You can than wrap it or braid it or spin it! I like to put mine in a braid so it stores nicely and looks neat and nice until I can spin it!!
Here was my finished product:
That’s it!! I will probably start using acid dyes when we move into our home but while we’re living with my parents I will use kool-aid, it’s quick, cheap and doesn’t take up much room! It’s so much fun I hope you all will try it out, it gets addicting!!
If you have any questions or comments please ask!
Here are my other 2 rovings I’ve dyed: