Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dyeing with the Kids

We had loads of fun this week.  I decided it was finally time to try dying unspun fiber.  I waited until the littlest one's nap time, and got a pound of Navajo churro fleece to soaking in my big pot.  I wrapped the wool together like a package with a piece of scrap yarn, hoping to make it easier to manage.  It really didn't.  So I got it out and put in the rack from my boiling water canner (it has handles!).  That helped a lot.
Next we got the wool out and let the excess water drain off.  I should have done a better job on this step, but the kids were SO EXCITED to start with the colors!

The big one was in charge of the blue, I was in charge of the green, and the little one was in charge of the yellow.  Each color was three packs of sugar free Kool Aid.  I am very glad right now that I use only food dyes, because at one point or another both kids decided to taste the dye stock.  To add to the fun and excitement, we used a nasal aspirator (I couldn't find the turkey baster) to spray the dye onto the wool.
Yes, the rack is sitting in my wok in that picture.  It was just the right size, and I needed something to catch run off!  Then into the pot it went to heat set.
It simmered and simmered until all the dye was sucked up into the wool.  Now, there's one thing about this wool that I didn't mention before -- I used a cold water scour on it, so the lanolin was still in.  Navajo churro sheep don't produce a lot of lanolin, but this means that the more lanolin any given part of the fleece had in it, the less dye it took up.  I'm hoping to get a cool heathered yarn when I card it all together and spin it.
Loads of fun and excitement for all ages!  And now I have green wool.  And a rusty canning rack.  It turns out that the thing wasn't meant to withstand as much acid as I just put it through.  But hey, next time, I'll rinse it better.  We still had a great time!

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