Dyed in the Wool

Hand Dyed Wool

Hand Dyed Wool

I found a nice tutorial on another site that showed a fun way of “dyeing in the wool.” Which means that you dye the wool either right off the sheep, or after it’s been washed, but BEFORE it is carded or made into roving. As you can see, the results are gorgeous.

With my aunt helping, we started out with about a pound of washed wool—some dry, some still damp. Then we filled a pot about four inches full of water and added some pink dye powder and wool. Then we added more wool and water and put in some red powder, and we did it one more time with some blue powder.

Thankfully we stopped then. The water line was a little less than an inch below the rim of the pot. If we let the pot boil we were in double trouble. First, it would felt the wool, and second, we’d get dye all over the stove.

Dye Color #1

Dye Color #1

We discovered that the red was a very dominant color. It soaked up into the blue and swallowed it whole.

Dye Color #2

Dye Color #2

All we could see was a sort of plum color, which was pretty, but not blue. We simmered it (at least we think it simmered) for forty-five minutes. I ended up adding a little more vinegar to the top after a half hour because the dye wasn’t exhausted yet, and supposedly a little more vinegar helps it cling to the wool faster. Wherever I poured the vinegar, blue emerged from the plum! It was quite interesting. I had to contain my sudden urge to pour the whole jug of vinegar in to see what would happen, and content myself with knowing that there was blue in there somewhere.

After it was cooked we let it sit for maybe twenty-five minutes, then we hauled it outside to drain it. Knowing what I know now, we should have just lifted out the wool and put something else into the still very red dye water. But, unaware of how pink the water would be we drained the water through the colundar and watched all the extra dye run down the hill. Once we had gotten it fairly well drained I rinsed it under a spigot (while trying to avoid a large bug that was hanging out under the siding) and took it back inside for a final rinse.

The rinse water was still pretty red, so we soaked the fleece in dishwashing liquid and plenty of water, then rinsed it again. That helped quite a bit. We lay the fleece out to dry and let it sit in the sun under an open window.

When I went back to swap out the towel underneath it I found lots of wonderful little red dye spots on the towel. Thankfully it was an old towel. And when I checked it just now there were even more spots. I think, once it’s dry, I’ll rinse it one more time, just to make sure. Although I can hardly wait to get it on my spinning wheel. The colors turned out beautiful!

Before and After:

Washed Wool

Washed Wool

Dyed Wool

Dyed Wool

2 Responses to Dyed in the Wool
  1. Anne
    October 9, 2008 | 11:15 am

    Oh, I love those colors. That palette would make a wonderful Web site. :6:

  2. Sarah
    October 9, 2008 | 1:42 pm

    That turned out pretty! Good job. 8)

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://maidenyarn.com/2008/10/dyed-in-the-wool/trackback/