Dyeing Instructions: Part 2

put the wool in the pot

Add in the roving (washed, carded wool), batts (another form of washed, carded wool), or just washed, still damp fleece (1 pound altogether) Push it down under the dye bath water with your wooden spoon or gloved hands. Here, I am dyeing wool that has been just washed and is still somewhat in the lock formation. If you are going to dye roving, wind it off into four 1/4 pound loose football shaped thingies. If you are dyeing batts, roll them into loose rolls.

Just as it is ready to boil, add in the acid (1/4 cup which I have added to 1 cup cold water) pouring small amounts in different spots in the pot.

REMEMBER the rule is: add ACID TO WATER *NEVER* add water to acid.

I use the wooden spoon (only for dyeing) and move the **WHOLE** mass of wool around, so as to distribute the acid.
Simmer with the lid on the pot for 1 hour after that, stirring (by moving the whole mass at once) only once or twice. There will be some "cotting" or a very, very small bit of felting, but after the dyed wool is dry carding will open the fibers again.

If you have dyed roving, just pulling on the roving then splitting it lengthwise a number of times will make it ready for hand spinning.

pouring in the acid

pouring off the dye water final rinse

It always takes up *all* of the dye. This is called "exhausting the dye bath". You can wait for the pot of wool to cool down or not. I pour off (very carefully) the near boiling water, draining it all out. Then run a sink full of very hot soapy water. Dump the wool into the hot soapy water and push it down with the wooden spoon or your gloved hands.

cold water rinse

As soon as the water has cooled enough to put my hand in it, I pull the plug and drain out the soapy water. There is very little movement of the wool ... NO sloshing it up and down or agitating it in the sink! Squeeze gently the soapy water out, then put the wool into a clear rinse soak that is the temperature of the cooled down soapy water. After 15 minutes, drain that off, and put it in the washing machine to spin out the water - then put it on a rack or on a towel on a table to dry.

What you have done ... dyeing the wool before it is spun, is known as "dyed in the wool". I don't know what they call dyed yarn ... something else?
After drying, this wool is ready for carding.

Anyway, you could use these same steps to dye yarn as well, if you want a 1 pound lot of yarn that is mostly the same colour. If it really must be dyed uniformly one colour, then there are chemicals called "leveling agents" that can be added to the dye bath before the wool and acid are put in. For a more even take up of the dye it also helps to have presoaked the wool so that it is damp.

You don't have to use only white wool for dyeing. You can also use natural silvers or lighter browns. These wools when "over dyed" are very rich, darker shades of the same white wools. I often put both white wools and silver wools into the same dye pot. The results are amazing!

In fact, all of dyeing is pretty amazing!

dyed in the wool

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