Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wool to Dye For

Whew, it's been awhile since I've posted anything new. Last summer Malcolm and I built a new wool studio that is warm and dry and gets a nice blast of sunshine in the window on a clear wintery day. I've spent many happy hours there this winter spinning colorful yarns and dreaming about knitting them up into something interesting. Some of them I've put up in my etsy store and they've gone out to cool knitters around the country. Here's a few samples:

I've turned our old Airstream trailer into my dye studio where I store my undyed wool, the dye powders and equipment. I have a hotplate, crockpot and microwave oven in there, plus a table outside with a three burner propane stove for the large dye lots. For dye pots I use an old aluminum 5 gallon pot (that I rescued from the scrap metal pile) and a canning kettle... also aluminum. I know, they say you should only use enamel or stainless steel.... but I use what I have and what I have seems to work fine. I have the following dye powders in my stash: Kiton, Cibalon, Talena, WashFast, Jacquard, and Dharma. The last two are the most recently added to my collection. They are all acid dyes for wool. One teaspoon of powder dyes a pound wool to a medium shade in most colors. I keep notes and little snippets of the dyed wool, so I can try to duplicate colors... although the various variables usually result in variations. I like surprises. On a sunny day you will probably see bright spots of dyed wool drying in my garden.

Here's some locks from a lovely Cotswold fleece I bought at the San Juan County Fair last summer, and just got around to dying. I think I will spin it into a multicolored boucle yarn, perhaps mixed with some kid mohair.

Last December I had a booth at the local arts fair. Mom came up for the week and helped out. It was a lot of fun. I look forward to the next one.