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Dyeing Handspun - Risky Business

Jacquelyn Frost

Dyeing always involves an element of uncertainty, and when you're dyeing yards of precious homespun, the stakes rise exponentially. I've spent hours and hours carefully teasing a bundle of fluffy roving into yarn, and to be frank, I'm a little sick of all this cream! Time to give it some color: natural color handspun wool yarn

I'll be using acid dyes from Dharma; I've used their fiber reactive dyes on cotton and linen before, and acid dyeing should give me the same deep colors on wool. Because they're made to work on one thing - animal fibers like wool and silk - they can be more concentrated and brighter than an all purpose dye like Rit. I'll be using an assortment of colors to get a soft gradient, and so I'll mix them up, add them to the dyepot, and try not to stir. I hope the color penetrates evenly, and to help it do so I've tied the wool in a loose hank and soaked it thoroughly.

Mason jars of dye in reds, blues, and greens

The colors are all pasted up and ready to go. I'm not sure how the yarn will come out; I'm hoping the colors will blend and shift, but I don't know what will be dominant or how much they'll run together. I'm hoping for a deep blue shot through with purples and greens.  

Hand dyed blue from dye - oops!

Guess there was a hole in my glove. Well, this is a promising sign for the colors, and if it all ends up deep blue I'll be happy. These dyes aren't toxic to the touch (though I wouldn't eat them) and turning Smurf for a few days is just an inconvenience. 

The yarn sat in the dye overnight, and now it's time to take it out, rinse it, and spread it in the sun to dry. As it dries, the color shades are becoming more vibrant and distinct - when it was a wet mess it all looked dark blue. I love it! I can't wait to put this on the loom and see how the colors interact as warp and weft. 

Handspun wool yarn in shifting blues and greens


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