Experimenting with wool

The last time I was in Cohuna for the Spinners and Weavers meeting Joy gave me some of these  rolls of wool.

Wool from mills

She got them years ago from a mill I think. It’s the wool that is stretched out ready to be spun into finer thread and then plyed into the wool such as you would buy in the shops.  These rolls are from the students who were learning how to work the commercial spinning machines.  Some are white. Some have blue centres that was apparently caused by the students not cleaning the machines properly and the blue wool that was previously used left it’s calling card and turned this wool blue.  These are big rolls of wool and I have six of them to play with….yipee.

Close Up

As you can see they aren’t very strong.  It’s almost as if a big woollen batt was stretched out very thinly but no twist was put into it which means of course the wool pulls apart very easily.

So I experimented.

Two skeins were just made from the wool held together and skeined before dyeing.  Two skeins were plied in the usual way – two pieces of wool twisted together using the spinning wheel and four skeins were Navajo plied.  If you click on the link there is even a little video showing Navajo plying if you are curious.  I must admit I love the technique and do use it quite a bit and, despite it looking a bit difficult, it is very relaxing.

Then I played with Dyes – Procion dyes that is. The Orange skeins were dyed by just immersing them in the dye/water/vinegar mix and bringing the whole lot to the boil for about 20 minutes to get a solid colour.  The green/orange multicoloured skeins were wound into a loose ball on my ball winder – loose being the operative word – soaked in water and gently spun out then sat  with just enough orange dye/water/vinegar  to come half way up them.  Brought to the boil then turned down to simmer, they cooked for about 20 minutes.  Pulled out gingerly – they were very hot – spun out in the washing machine then the undyed half of the ball was sat back into the green dye/water/vinegar mix and the same process followed.  When they were cooked I pulled them out and spun them gently.  They were then skeined up and rinsed very well. I actually had very little dye come out into the wash water which was good.  Once dry they are so soft and fluffy and I’m super happy with them.

hand dyed with procion dyes

The purple/teal skeins were dyed in the same fashion  as the orange/green, while the sea green – they are more grass green in real life – skeins were wound into the ball then put into the dye as above but I only dyed the bottom half of them.  It’s has lead to some very nice variegations from dark green to white all in the same skein as the dye travels up the damp wool.  My guess is if you didn’t get all the water spun out of them before dyeing them you could get different variegations and effects.

I will be dyeing more wool using these methods as the results are simply stunning – much better in real life than in these photos…..which could say a lot about the camera operator.  Each skein is probably close to a 10 ply wool in thickness which will make for quick and easy knitting or crochet.

Now to find the perfect project for them.


3 thoughts on “Experimenting with wool

  1. Thank you for sharing your process of dyeing the skeins. The sea green method of just submerging half of the ball is a very interesting method – I may just try it one of these days.

  2. Pingback: HDT shop update: My new HDTs « Zarina's Craft

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