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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂