Today’s Experiment Is……..

………………………………Dyeing woolen batts with Procion MX Dyes.

I should start at the beginning.  Up to now I have only tried dyeing skeins of wool. I have been a little afraid of trying to dye rovings or batts of wool or alpaca or anything else I have carded up but having bought this book I just had to have a go.

This has to be one of my all time favorite books to date.  It is full of inspiration.  Lots of photos of not only the most gorgeous dyed wool but also the socks that are knitted from the wool.  There is a basic sock pattern (which I haven’t attempted yet) and lots of ideas on how to incorporate your dyed wool into some fabulous and one off socks.  As if that isn’t enough this is the book for encouraging you to break the rules.  To have fun with dye and colour and see what you can come up with. It’s the reasons I spent several hours playing around in the laundry today dyeing wool.

I think I did ok but the real proof will be how the wool spins up.  From the front of the photo working towards the back I have merino/silk (from the Bendigo Woolen Mills) dyed with a variety of colours. Not sure how this is going to work and I have a feeling it could all be a bit muddy coloured in the end.

Next is some white alpaca dyed with red and the second piece dyed with blue. I’m hoping to spin both finely enough then ply the two together.  I should explain.  When I spin wool I get one strand of wool at whatever thickness I want or end up with.  Plying is simply twisting two or more of those strands of wool together to create a new thicker strand of wool.  In general it seems to be thought that two strands plyed together are stronger and more durable when knitted or crocheted than one strand.  Although I have experimented with just one strand in what is called “energised singles” – but that will have to wait for another post and some decent photos of my experiment.

The next is brown sheeps wool that I have drizzled deep red over.  Not sure how that one will work but it was worth experimenting with.

All the fleece was soaked in a vinegar and water solution until thoroughly wet, then the water was squeezed out gently until they felt just damp.  Each piece was laid down on cling wrap, had dyed drooled over them in a sort of pattern, wrapped up in cling wrap then steamed until done.  Rinsed in cool water they are now drying in the laundry.

There is more to this photo than you will see at first glance too.

Look towards the back of the photo – see the box??? It has 15 eggs in it and a lamp (the bag in front of it is holding the box flaps closed to keep the warmth in) in the hope that we will hatch some new chickens which should be bursting out of their shells on January 2nd all being well.  The kids are very excited about the prospect of new chickens. I’m not so keen as it is me who has to remember to turn the eggs twice a day and make sure that they are all warm enough for the chicks to develop.

Next is a bag of brown onion skins which dye pure wool the most beautiful shade of ginger. I have had to rescue this bag several times as the kids are determined to throw it out -but hopefully now it’s in the laundry it should be safe until I can get the dye boiled up.

Right next to the onions are some plastic cups with dyed fabric in them. I couldn’t bare to throw out the left over dye from my wool dyeing so I popped in half a dozen fat quarters to add to the already bursting hand dyed fabrics drawer.

Next to the dyed fabric are some leaves in a bucket.  Elise went for another drive today and of course I had to be supervising driver.  Not content to just sit there I watched the trees on the sides of the road for anything that may look interesting and could possibly be used for dyeing wool.  Of course there was lots of trees that had potential but persuading Elise to stop so I could gather just a few leaves was a difficult task.  At least her driving is improving in leaps and bounds and there’s a good chance we may head off to Murrabit market tomorrow as it’s the last one before Christmas so it should be a good market.  If nothing else it’s a morning out with the prospect of some hot chips for morning tea…..  : – )


4 thoughts on “Today’s Experiment Is……..

  1. I just saw the tea cozy you made for your friend Karen–just wanted to tell you great job, I think it’s awesome. Glad she gave a link to your blog, I love to see what others are creating.

  2. Looks exciting Catherine I can’t wait to see how everything turns out. I love seeing how you’ve dyed everything I think the yarn will turn out fine and not muddy at all.

    It’s funny because I have that book as well. I just went looking for it and am frustrated because I don’t know where it’s got to. I doubted myself and thought I’d rented it out from the library (they have a copy) but I went into my Amazon back orders and sure enough it’s in the house somewhere. It’s a beautiful book and one of the first I bought.

    New chicks huh, wonder who gets to look after those vbg.

  3. Wow, dyeing your wool looks really interesting and then to knit or crochet something with it must be fun and rewarding. I love your colors and your resourcefulness.

    I found you through Rhonda’s blog down to earth, and look forward to coming back to read and be inspired here. I couldn’t see where I could follow your blog, so bookmarked it.

    Thank you for your kind comment about our humble kitchen/scullery.

    Have a lovely Christmas ~ FlowerLady

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