Sunday, March 09, 2008

Dyed in the wool

In the depths of a box I came across a plastic bag containing six small balls of vivid pink wool. I had a vague memory of it being frogged from a crocheted item of dress made for a child back in the 70's when such colours were a la mode. A label in the bag said it was 100gms of 3ply 100% wool, and when I weighed it to check, this was correct. The two larger balls together weighed 50 gms, and the other 4 balls made up the rest. I have been wanting to play with dye for a while, and this seemed to be the opportunity I had been waiting for, as I didn't think I could make this any worse than it already was. I rewound the wool into 25gm kegs, and put it to soak in warm water and vinegar. As a dye I was undecided between using violet food colour and jar of sliced beetroot in vinegar, but settled on the violet when I found there was more beetroot in the jar than could comfortably be eaten as a snack. I removed the wool from the dish it was soaking in, and poured all but ½" of the vinegar water away, then added a teaspoon of the violet food colouring from a bottle that has been hanging around for twenty odd years and so is rather more concentrated than it had been. The next step was to just sit the kegs in the liquid so that the dye was only absorbed into the bottom of the keg. I covered the dish with cling film and zapped it in the microwave for three minutes, checking it after each minute. By this time, the water left in the dish had lost its colour and the wool had absorbed it. I left the whole thing sitting for half an hour to cool down, and then rinsed the kegs in tepid water and squeezed them out. (I was half way through skeining the last ball when I thought of taking photographs) Dying in the keg like this is supposed to avoid a regular striped effect that appears if you dye in the skein, as the way it is wound means that the outer layers will have longer lengths in the dye and the inner ones shorter. I clamped the two halves of a wooden dish rack to each end of the balcony table and skeined it out to dry in the breeze. I kept the sun off most of it with the umbrella as I am not too sure how sun-fast food dye is. The light pink patches in the photo are sunlight, not stripes, and the colour distribution appears to be completely random, as promised. It only remained to rewind it when it was dry, and I was pleasantly surprised at how soft it had stayed, and at how little felting there was. Now I need to decide what to make with it. It may become a ripple stitch scarf, but who knows? A great part of the pleasure comes from looking through patterns and it may take months to find just the right one...


  1. This looks fab! I love the mottled colour you've achieved. Stretching it out across your balcony like that must have taken forever!


  2. ....but not as long as warping it along the balcony would have taken...
    The photo is deceptive: the table is only a metre and a half from end to end, whereas the balcony is twenty metres from end to end..

  3. That was a day well spent!
    Rainbow dying no less.

    Looks lovely as is. I hope you leave them lying around as objets d'art for a bit before you start doing things with the yarn.

  4. Hello there! Thank you so much for coming out of the shadows and leaving a comment at the Pigeon Loft! What a great idea to turn old wool into fab new wool. I love the colour combination. I hope you find a good project for it.

    p.s. those teacakes below look great. Mmmmmm :D


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