Thursday, 26 July 2012

So on the first sunniest day we'd had this summer I spent the whole time in a stuffy studio dyeing all my wool ready for Birmingham, it was well worth it though as I now have all five colours again so I'm well prepared for crocheting my flowers.

To start the process off I had to spin the wool into separate skiens for each colour and wash and soak it in hot soapy water, this gets rid of the finish that the manufacturers put on the wool once they've spun it, it's important I get rid of this as if I didnt then the dye wouldn't absorb well enough.

Once I had let the wool soak for a while I was able to start actually dying it all. I mixed up each colour separately and cooked it on a hob. It's pretty easy and something you could do at home if you weren't afraid of getting dye everywhere. All I do is break up a fabric softener tablet in a large pan and add two litres of hot water, with another litre of water I mix up my dye from a recipe I have perfected over time and add this litre to the pan, now I can add my wool.

The mixture needs to rise to boiling point and stay there until the colour sets, there is a time you're meant to leave it until but I find the more haphazard approach works better for me as colours can vary and if you want some to be stronger then you need to leave it in for longer anyway. I usually let it get to boiling temperature then I will test how strong it is by removing a strand from the pan and dipping it into a jug of water, if it's not set yet then the dye will run and where the wool has been in the water it will look significantly lighter.

Once it's set properly I add a capful of vinegar for each litre of water I've used, stir together and then leave to cook for another 20 minutes to let the vinegar absorb into the wool. I use the vinegar so that it helps fix the dye to the wool which will prevent the colours running if they happen to get wet in the future.

Once I feel the colour is set I take it out of the dye and let it cool in a bucket, once it's relatively cool I wash it in warm water, this just gets rid of the excess dye that may run, I do this until the water runs clear. These are my final skiens, I think the green could have been a bit more yellow-ey but I thought it looked too light as I was doing it so added a little bit more navy blue and I went too far unfortunatly. But I compared it to the green I had already dyed previously and there wasn't a massive difference so it's not a disaster! All I need to do now is let these dry and then wind them back into balls of wool. A day well spent I think.

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