Since I started spinning last year I have been in awe of the beautifully coloured fibres for sale. I have bought a few, but last weekend while browsing Ewe Give Me The Knits I decided to buy a 1kg merino top, and try my hand at dyeing. The top arrived on Thursday, and there were two things which surprised me when I opened the parcel. Firstly, the incredibly gorgeous creamy colour. For some reason, I thought it would be white, or off white. The second was the smell of lanolin...it brought memories of my childhood back. We had a tube of it which in the medicine cabinet, and any dry or chafed skin was treated with lanolin.
Last night I had my first dyeing attempt...quite pleased with how it turned out. I used food colouring, (Queen brand) Pillar Box Red and Blue. I soak the top in water with citric acid first, then lay it on cling wrap (with a few layers of newspaper underneath). Using plastic cups, I fill each one with water, add food colouring and pour it down the middle of the top. Then, pulling cling wrap over the fibre, I 'smoosh' it slightly to help the colour move out to the edges. After this is done, the fibre is wrapped in the cling wrap, and rolled up to fit in my saucepan/steamer. It's steamed (not boiled) for 45 minutes to set the colour, then allowed to cool completely before it is given a little rinse in fresh water to ensure that the citric acid is removed.
For now, I'm only using small sections of the top, until I gain confidence with colours and the whole dyeing process. This afternoon I dyed another section using pink and black...it's turned out very nice, and is drying in the bathroom