I started dying and spinning the other day, and thought I’d share my process with you.
I knew I wanted to blend Bluefaced Leicester wool top with Alpaca and Mulberry silk so I layered the fibers in my steamer.
The steamer basket is placed in the sink with hot water and Unicorn Power Scour (a soap used to clean raw fleece) to help the water penetrate and get rid of any oils which may be on the fiber, using only enough water to submerge the roving.
I use Dharma acid dyes and mix the colours with citric acid before pouring them on the fiber. Brilliant Yellow, Caribbean Blue, Deep Magenta and True Black are the colours I use most. I also have Silver Grey but haven’t played with it much. Some colours are harder to mix than others but I’ve found that using boiling water helps dissolve the dye powder.
When dying, I don’t disturb the roving, especially when dying fine merino as it will felt very easily which is why I use a steamer and not a pot.
After the fibers are dyed, I steam them for about 10 – 15 minutes, let cool then rinse. If the colours are too bright for my liking, I might over dye them with black immediately, this typically gives me more muted tones however, Dharma’s “True Black” has a purple hue so yellows turn green and magenta sometimes turn purple.
Once cool, I press the excess water out and lay the fibers on a drying rack with a fan on them.
I love how the same dyes react differently on various proteins, silk is the most brilliant followed by alpaca and lastly, wool.
Before spinning, everything is blended together on a drum carder.
It never ceases to amaze me how colours change when blended and spun.