Category Archives: Wool dyeing

Dyeing Ile de France – Rosewine and Eggplant

Continuing on with the dyeing experiments I thought I’d post some more pictures of the Ile de France this time using ProChem’s Rosewine and Eggplant dyes.

This time around I decided to soak the fleece for a day before cleaning it with the Unicorn Power Scour. A lot of the lanolin must have come out during the soak because when I used the Power Scour there wasn’t much dirt or lanolin in the water. I decided to only wash it once with the Power Scour because of this. The tips were still yellow because of dirt staining or lanolin, I’m not sure which. I decided any leftover lanolin would come out when the fleece was in the dyepot being heated so I didn’t worry about it.

Anyhow, interesting this time around because I used Procion Mx dyes instead of the acid dyes. I only have two reds, two blues and a yellow in the acid dyes so I decided to go to my Procion Mx dyes for variety. Procion Mx dyes are used to dye plant matter, namely cotton but you can use them as an acid dye on wool if you provide an acid such as citric acid or vinegar to set the dye.

When I used the acid dyes I found the fleece dyed darker in the base of the locks and the tips were lighter because they were dirty. Using the Procion Mx dyes I found the opposite, the base was light and the tips really dark. I’m not sure why, the tips would have been cleaner from the pre-soak but the dye was darker where the yellow staining was so I’m not sure what’s up with that and can’t explain it. The fleece does look pretty this way though.

The first dyepot was the Rosewine and after heating the fleece on low for about 40 minutes the dye still hadn’t been sucked up into the fleece and I was despairing that the whole experiment wouldn’t work. I dumped in some citric acid in addition to the vinegar I had used and turned up the heat. The citric acid didn’t seem to do anything so I left the pot to cook longer. When I came back the pot was bubbling away and all the dye had been sucked up by the wool and the water was clear. I’m pretty sure the heat was the magic element because pretty much the same thing happened when I dyed the eggplant coloured pot of fleece – the dye didn’t get absorbed until the pot actually started to boil so I think heat is the critical factor for dye absorption.

Here is a photo sequence of events.

rosewine ile de france on deck
Ile de france drying on deck, ProChem’s Procion Mx colour Rosewine used.

rosewine ile de france
Rosewine Ile de France

rosewine on comb
Rosewood locks on comb before being combed.

rosewine second pass light colour exposed
Rosewine third pass on combs lighter base colour exposed.

rosewine 4th pass dark exposed
Rosewine fourth pass on combs dark tip side exposed.

dizzed rosewine sliver
Rosewine sliver.

eggplant ile de france
Ile de France dyed with ProChem’s Procion Mx dye colour Eggplant.

eggplant ile de france close-up
Locks close-up showing how dye colour is concentrated on the tips.

eggplant on comb
Locks on comb before actual combing.

eggplant fourth pass dark side
Fibre fourth pass on the combs dark tip side exposed.

rosewine and eggplant sliver
Here is a photo of the Rosewine and Eggplant sliver together. I’d picked the colours from a reference binder I have that contains samples of all my dye colours. Each page has six colour gradations on 2.5 inch cotton squares so when I’m trying to decide on what colours will go well together I can have a look and compare the colours in the binder. I’m really pleased that the colours stayed true when I used them on the wool, apparently this doesn’t always happen.

rosewine on Bosworth spindle
My spinning wheel is currently in use with another spinning project so it occurred to me to get out one of my spindles and test a sample of the fibre. It went smoothly so it should be easy to spin this stuff up on the wheel. It’s pretty much what you’d expect with hand-combed sliver. The colour did intensify with the spinning so I’m happy ๐Ÿ™‚

Next time I think I’ll get a green that matches the pink and purple and then maybe just comb some of the fleece and leave it natural. I’m thinking maybe Fair Isle hat or mitts with a flower pattern in the pink and purple and green for leaves. I’ll have to see what I come up with.


Link to ProChem’s webpage on using Procion Mx dyes with wool Dyeing wool with Procion Mx dyes I didn’t bother using the wool assist chemical or the ammonia, everything seems to be working fine without those two chemicals.


Ile de France continued…

I can’t seem to figure out how to add a picture to a finished blog post so I’m taking the easy way out and just tagging this one after to show the finished rovings in Fire Red and Sun Yellow from yesterday’s post.

combed roving ile de france fire red sun yellow
Jaquard’s Sun Yellow, Fire Red on Ile de France wool.

I got a bit more out of this lot 98 grams of combed roving. Still boggles my mind all that work for only 98 grams.


Dyeing Ile de France Fleece

John and I picked up some Ile de France fleece this past weekend and I had some fun washing and dyeing up part of the fleece. The fleece itself was pretty dirty and there was a lot of it so I just reached in and grabbed a handful of what looked like the nicest at the time.

I didn’t fuss too much with the tips and just washed the fleece in Unicorn Power Scour a couple of times. There was a lot of lanolin in the fleece as I washed it and I wasn’t sure if the yellow I was seeing was from lanolin or some type of staining but the next day after the fleece had dried I realized it was yellow staining. I’m not sure where the yellow came from. The yellow might be from the lanolin or maybe it was Canary staining I’m not too sure. I think canary staining is a brighter yellow but what do I know? Anyhow the fleece was pretty reasonable cost-wise and I was okay with the fleece not being bright white because I wanted to use these fleeces as practice for dyeing. No sense paying top dollar for quality fleece only to screw up the dye job.

Here follows a huge photo bomb of the process. I divided the fleece into two batches and soaked each batch in vinegar/water before tossing them into a pot dedicated for dyeing. The pot also had water with a cup of vinegar in it. I then used two different dyes on the fleece. I put a bunch of fleece into the pot, poured half the dye(s) on each side, put in the rest of the fleece and then poured the rest of the dye on top.

I then let the fleece sit for about an hour trying to keep the temperature around 180, needless to say the heat wasn’t consistent but I didn’t really care. For the most part most of the dye was absorbed with only a little bit of coloured water left in the pot. Of course when I went to do a wash-out in hot water lots more dye came out. Either I didn’t cook the whole thing long enough or most likely there was too much dye in the mix, maybe both. Anyhow I did about four rinses before giving up and letting the stuff dry. It’s doesn’t run in cold water and most people don’t wash their wool in hot water so I’m not too worried about it. Who knows I might never knit this stuff up, time will tell.

ile de france yellow staining
Ile de France washed, not too bad but some yellow staining and dry dirty tips.

ile de france in pot dry
Dry Ile de France in pot.

ile de france soaking in vinegar water
Fleece soaking in water.

dye colours used
Jaquard dye, Sapphire and Vermillion.

fleece starting dye process
On the stove, dye just added.

fleece after being cooked
Fleece cooling off on the deck, notice some mixing of the dyes in the pot.

dyed ile de france sapphire and vermillion
Dried fleece.

tips of locks lighter in colour
Notice that the dirty tips are lighter in colour where the dirt provided a resist to the dye. I had combed out some of the tips but decided to leave some to see if they dyed lighter and sure enough that’s what happened.

vermillion on comb
Vermillion loaded on the comb. There was some blue in there.

vermillion first pass on combs
First pass on combs.

second pass
Second pass on comb.

third pass
Third pass on combs.

dizing fleece off of comb
Dizzing fleece off of the comb.

sapphire and vermillion loaded on comb
Sapphire and vermillion loaded on comb.

sapphire and vermillion final pass
Final pass of sapphire and vermillion.

sapphire on comb
Sapphire on comb.

dizzed wool seconds from combings
I had a lot of fibre left over after I made the rovings so thought I’d try re-combing the wool to see what happened. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the combs got the remaining chaff out and the fibres weren’t as short as I thought they’d be. I dizzed on the smallest hole and got these 4 balls (16 grams) from what I thought was junk wool.

combed and dized wool
Sapphire and vermillion rovings.

From this batch of dyed wool I have 86 grams of roving. Not a whole lot of weight considering how much time and effort went into it, less than a bigger ball of yarn and I’ve yet to spin it but I had fun, right?

Next up are a few photos from the batch of fleece I dyed using Sun Yellow and Fire red. I’m still in the process of combing out the fleece so I’ll probably tack on a few pictures later after my thumbs, wrists and arms have a break.

yellow and red ile de france
Ile de France dyed using Jaquard Yellow Sun and Fire Red.

yellow sun loaded on comb
Yellow sun loaded on comb.

ile de france yellow sun
Final pass on combs (I found three passes enough to get rid of the chaff).

ile de france fire red loaded on comb
Fire Red loaded on comb.

fire red
Fire Red final pass.

yellow sun and fire red roving
Rovings done so far.

yellow sun fire red fleece
Fleece waiting to be combed and dizzed.

Wool combs are awesome tools for getting rid of dirt and vegetable matter out of fleece. I would have liked to use my drum carder on the fleece but having drum carded fleece with dirt and peat in it I can tell you that the dirt doesn’t fall out but stays in the batt. I might blend the rovings on the drum carder before I spin them I haven’t decided what to do as I’m still playing with the dyes ๐Ÿ™‚


Road trip to the Woodstock Fibre Festival

I’m a bit behind in blog posts, this post is about the road trip we took to see the Woodstock Fibre Festival that was held on October 18th, 2014 of this year. The festival as far as I know is held in October every year. I’m just going to photo bomb so people can have a look and see what the festival is all about. I didn’t get everything but it does give a taste of the various vendors that were there.

We drove through Toronto on the 401 highway and I started taking photos when I saw the Milton water tower, I have a thing for taking pictures of water towers. Also the day was very overcast so the pictures are a bit dark and fuzzy in spots.

Milton water tower
Milton water tower.

Niagra escarpment on 401
Niagara escarpment.

closeup of niagara escarpment

scenic barn
Scenic barn.


autumn trees
Autumn foliage.

nice tree at Kitchner rest stop
Nice tree at the Kitchener rest stop.

microwave tower
Microwave tower on hill.

cambridge water tower
Cambridge water tower.

Getting near Woodstock
Approaching Woodstock.

Rain on road being picked up by the cars to make it misty.
Rain on road being picked up by cars and creating a fine mist.

Woodstock water tower
Woodstock water tower, sun is coming out.

Rainbow to the promised land
Rainbow to the promised land.

Festival sign
Festival sign.

Spinning wheels
Spinning Wheels.

yarn display
Yarn display.


Fibre Garden
The Fibre Garden

more fibre garden
More Fibre Garden.

The Black Lamb
The Black Lamb.

Hopeful Shetlands
Hopeful Shetlands.

hopeful shetlands rovings
Hopeful Shetland rovings.

Chassagne farm fleeces
Chassagne Farm, fleeces.

spinning wheel in action
Spinning wheel in action.

Wellington fibres
Wellington Fibres.

Wellington Fibre Mill box display
Wellington Fibres box display.

Succumbing to the fibre
Succumbing to the fibre.

Speedy Sheep knitted garments
Speedy Sheep, knitted garment display.

Silk Jewel scarves and yarn
Silk Jewel, scarves and yarn display.

Demoing Navahoe spindle
Navahoe spindle demo.

Gemini Fibres display logo
Gemini Fibres.

Gemini Fibres spindle display
Gemini Fibres spindle display.

in the barn Oxford knitters and spinners loom
In the barn, Oxford Knitters and Spinners display with loom.

young lad demoing lucet braiding
Young lad demoing Lucet braiding.

That’s it hope you enjoyed the show.

More Navaho-ply.

Well I finally had a go at dyeing up some wool using one of the Easter egg kits I got on sale last year. I think I ended up paying 25 cents or something like that. LOL, it’s taken me that long to get up the nerve to use the dye.

I pre-soaked the wool top in some water that had a bit of vinegar added to it, I’d tell you the amount but it was more like a glug. I let that soak for about 30 minutes then added the wool to a pot and put it on the stove to simmer. When the wool was steaming I and the two grandsons added the dye tablets to the wool along with a couple more tablespoons of vinegar. I let the wool steam away until all the dye was taken up, then let it cool and rinsed it out.

Shetland roving dyed with Paas Easter egg dyes.

Here are a few pictures of the wool being spun and a picture of a Berkley’s fish line counter that I jury rigged to the base of a candle stand. I ran the yarn through this as I was winding it into a yarn cake. The cake was a bit too firm so I rewound the yarn but the counter did the trick and it only cost $13.99 at the outdoor store.

Easter egg skein
Single on spinning wheel bobbin.

Berkley line counter
Berkley fishing line counter clamped to candle base.

Easter skein on black
Skein on black background.

Easter egg cake
Wool wound into a yarn cake.

Here’s another little item I picked up from the thrift shop, it’s a sock loom with dvd and book. I don’t need a loom to make socks in fact I can knit faster than using this loom but it struck my fancy to give it a go. I guess I was reminiscing about the little wooden cork tool that I used as a kid to make those circular tubes of wool that then got sewn into placemats.

Sock loom
KB Sock loom.

As I expected it’s easier for me to knit socks but it’s been interesting to try this out and if you can’t knit then it’s an alternative.


Rainbow Dyed Wool Roving and Navaho-plying

Thought I would post what I’ve been up to lately. In my Ravelry groups there are always some type of monthly projects going on and this month’s project for my spinning group was to spin up some Easter coloured wool and then learn how to Navaho-ply the single. The reason spinners will Navaho-ply is to preserve the colour runs that they have spun into their single (one ply yarn). So you take your roving, spin it all up into one ball and then ply it back on itself. The single thread ends up being a 3-ply yarn.

Navaho-plying is very similar to crocheting in that you pull your single through a loop but at the same time the wheel is turning adding twist. So the trick is to pull a loop, twist, pull a loop, twist. The hard part is not letting to much twist into your working threads otherwise you won’t have a loop big enough to pull more single through. The other trick is to do this in a manner that you’re not over-plying the yarn. It took me almost the entire 100 grams of single before I caught on and made an even ply. What worked for me was learning to keep the hand that grabs the single through the loop still and close to my body at the top of the plying motion. The other hand controls the plying motion of bringing the thread to and from the wheel. Kind of hard to explain but once I learned this trick my plying became smoother, looser and it was like I was doing a 2-ply motion.

Anyhow here are a few photos of the dyed roving and finished yarn. One of these days I’ll remember to take pictures while I’m dyeing the wool.

roving rainbow
Shetland top dyed with Jaquard Sky Blue, Fire red and Yellow.

rainbow single
Single ply on the bobbin.

Easter rainbow skein
Navahoe-plied in a skein.

Easter rainbow cake
Final layer cake.

It was a good learning experience this March SAL (spin along). Not only did I learn to Navaho-ply but I also learned more about dyeing wool and what happens when I spin up coloured roving. Next time I dye some roving I’ll make sure I have more of a separation between the areas of colour. I wanted to blend the colours to get some green, purple and orange but what I found was except for the blue area in the roving I lost a lot of the original colour.

I thought having a couple of inches of colour would be enough to show up in the spinning but what I found was the twist moves into the wool about four inches at a time so it’s grabbing not only the first colour but it’s pulling in some adjacent colour as well so there was a lot of blending going on. This is great if you want that effect and it was quite pretty. The thing is Navaho plying combines thread so you get a 3-ply yarn and this really blends the colours so it does muddy the colour.

My final colours in the yarn were surprising to me because I didn’t expect to get them. I thought I was going for Easter rainbow and I ended up more or less with autumn leaves and blue sky. It’s nice just not what I wanted. I think the way to spin the purest colour is most likely just grabbing coloured top and spinning up a handful of this and then switching out to a handful of that. It’s fascinating really the countless combinations of colour that can be achieved through different dyeing techniques, carding and spinning.


Kettle dyeing with MX dyes.

I tried dyeing some of the Shetland fleece I was given with some of my mx procion dyes. I’d read something about being able to use exhausted procion mx dyes on wool or silk you just need to put an acid with them to make them work. I know the colours don’t always come true but given that I have two tubs worth of mx dyes I thought I’d give it a shot.

The fleece I was given is a very fine (as in micron count) fleece. The only problem I had with it was that the rise or break in the fibre occurred about 2/3 – 1/2 way down the tips so there was a lot of wasteage. I decided that I was going to card all of it together and just spin it woolen and not worry about what I got. I consider this a practise fleece. The first practise was in washing and cleaning the fleece. It was very full of peat and the amount of dirt that came out of the fibre incredible but I did pick most of it out.

Next I decided to practise my woolen spinning skills and make big fat yarn, which came out not too badly with the hat and cowl I made my granddaughter Charlie. Here’s a picture of her wearing her hat. Bad grandma disturbed her lunch to get it so she’s not too happy with me. LOL, plus she’s wearing her spaghettio’s on her face.
eating spaghettios

So figuring the fleece owed me nothing I decided to drum card up a couple of batts and try dyeing them using the paint method. I didn’t bother taking pictures of the process (meaning I forgot) but this is where you lay out your pre-soaked fibre on sarah wrap, paint it, wrap it up and then steam it.

I really don’t know what I’m doing or how long I should be steaming the packages but the last time I tried this with the wilton’s food colour I just steamed until the water ran clear. This didn’t happen with the procion mx dyes. I’m not sure if it’s because I used too much dye or because they are procion mx dyes and they don’t run clear. Anyhow the eggplant when used on cotton gives you a beautiful dark purple, that’s not what I got. On the other hand the tangerine came out vividly so go figure.

Next I decided to dye some fleece that hadn’t been carded to see what happened. Again I decided to try using my procion mx dyes because I have some nice colour combinations so I used Intense blue, boysenberry and golden yellow.

ultra blue bosenberry golden yellow
Fleece in dye pot with blue, boysenberry and yellow.

In the pot the dyes started to mix so I could see the green and purple starting to show. Of course it didn’t stop there and to my dismay the blue and boysenberry totally took over the yellow.

Blended dyes

Well needless to say the dye didn’t totally absorb into the wool or the water run clear. I tried simmering the wool for about 50 minutes and left it to cool quite a bit before I rinsed the whole thing. Lots of dye went down the drain and I also found out that none of the blue dye took. I was left with boysenberry and a boysenberry-golden yellow type of orange. Not sure why the blue didn’t take but I have a feeling blue takes longer to absorb into wool.

rinsed fibre still wet
Rinsed fibre still wet.

Next morning the wool was dry and it hadn’t really lightened like fibre is supposed to. If anything it seemed darker to me but then again I dyed this late last night so the lighting wasn’t that great.

dried boysenberry mix
Dry wool, actually more purplish than pink in real life.

Anyhow the mystery of the blue yarn with the barber pole effect (previous post) was solved as the tips of the fleece turned out really dark. When I washed the fleece there were a lot of dark dirty tips that didn’t come clean in the wash. You’re really kind of helpless to try and get these tips clean unless you want a felted mess from disturbing the wool to much so I just comb them out when the fleece is dry. So the tips were still dirty and I guess my hair-dresser was right when he said dirty hair absorbs the dye better.

Darker tips.

Then I carded up some of the dyed wool into a batt. It was really kind of pretty but I carded it a third time so most of the pretty streaks from the orange were lost into the batt but the batt needed an extra turn through the drum carder to make it more uniform so I lost the variation.

Here is a picture of all three batts.

Eggplant, Tangerine, Boysenberry.

And here is a picture of what I woke up to this morning.

winter wonderland
Winter wonderland.

Next, what to do with the different coloured batts?