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Saturday, October 16, 2004

(If you are looking for pics of my yarn, they are in the archives.)

How I dye my yarns/fibers:
I dye in small quantities (mostly 4ounces or less) with food safe, vegetarian, and envi friendly dyes. I usually use a crock-pot to dye my fibers, but occasionally I will steam them as well.

Crock-pot dying:
1.) Take your fiber. It should be wool or another material that will dye with protein dyes. If it is yarn, make sure it is loosely tied in a skein, fiber can be loosely skeined or just piled in. Soak this fiber in either the crock-pot you will be using to dye the wool, or in another container. You want to let is soak for awhile (many people let theirs soak for an hour; I’m lazy, so I let mine soak for as much time as it takes for me to prepare the dyes, so maybe 10 minutes).
2.) Prepare the dyes: I like to use Wilson’s cake dyes or kool-aid. Mix them in separate containers, and add a splash of vinegar (vinegar sets the dyes. And its environmentally friendly)
3.) If your wool isn’t already in the crock-pot, carefully lift it in now, making sure to support all the mass of the fiber. Add a bit of water to the crock-pot, so the fiber floats around a bit, and you can easily “prod” it to distribute the dyes.
4.) Slowly add the dyes to the fiber. You can pour them directly onto the fiber, down the sides, whatever. Just make sure you lift the fiber up so that the dye gets to the bottom and is easily distributed.
5.) Once you have all the dyes poured on, add some more water so that it almost reaches the top. Turn on the crock-pot, and let it sit for an hour or two. Once as much of the dye has been absorbed as possible, turn off the crock-pot.
6.) (Many people say their wool felts if they rinse it with cold water (to get out the excess dyes- I’ve never had any problems with my wool getting felted because of temperature, only because of movement). Dump the contents of the CP into a sink, and rinse the wool carefully, using a bit of soap (dish soap is best) to get out any remaining dye, vinegar (more the smell of it!), etc.
7.) carefully get the water out of your fiber- you can spin it in a washer (no agitation!), roll it in a towel, etc. Let it dry in a place where it won’t be disturbed too much. I use a sweater rack thing that you lay sweaters out on to dry (so they don’t shrink). If im in a hurry, I will hang it off my ironing board so the air can reach both the top and bottom at the same time. If you have the wool in a skein you can just hang it from something as well.

So, then you ask: Crock-pot? Why? Well, its easy, I can store it in my craft cupboard(s), and it doesn’t boil (which agitates the fiber and makes it set. Also, you can leave crock pots alone for an hour and the fiber will be ok, whereas with steaming etc you have to watch your fiber! That being said, make sure you use a cp that you don’t use for food. I got mine for $1 at a garage sale, but you can almost always find them for under $5 at a thrift store.

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