Remember my first time dyeing yarn, back in November? I dyed a lovely skein of Elsa Wool Cormo yarn a decidedly less lovely shade of day-glow green. To figure out the best way to overdye the skein for results that I like, I thought I’d practice on some of the 30 oz. of Romney fiber I have stashed. I apologize in advance for the eye-searing-ness of this post.
I took about 4.5 oz of fiber, replicated the low-water immersion dyeing that I performed on the Cormo skein, and produced that hunking mass of ectoplasm which I split into 7 tiny bundles of about 0.65 oz each. I overdyed one of the bundles with yellow at a depth-of-shade (DOS) of 0.75.
QUICK LESSON: When you mix your dyestocks in a 1:100 solution (1 g of dye powder for every 100 mL of water), a DOS of 1 would mean that you used the same number of mL of dyestock solution as grams of wool you want to dye. Since 0.65 oz of wool = 18.5 g, I would’ve used 18.5 g of dyestock if I wanted a DOS of 1. A smaller DOS such as 0.75 would result in a lighter color because you use less dye. I used 13 mL of yellow dyestock, which is 75% of the 18.5 g of wool.
I also tried out a bunch of different methods for applying dye to fiber. I poured out 6 cups of dyestock: yellow, silver grey, amazon green, chestnut, amethyst purple, and turquoise. The top right shows one bundle with grey dye just poured over it. The bottom right shows another bundle half dipped in green and the other half dipped in chestnut. The bottom left shows a third bundle with yellow poured on and grey dabbed on with a paintbrush. Not shown is a particularly messy bundle where I alternated between dipping sections in green and purple as well as one where I poured lots of turquoise on and dabbed a little grey.
For my last bundle, I used whatever was left over of the yellow, green, and chestnut to paint stripes across the fiber. For this bundle, I carefully folded the saran wrap over so that the dye wouldn’t mix across the surface of the fiber (the others I just rolled up because I wanted mixing). I bought a handy dandy steamer specifically so I could do this little multi-dye experiment. Unfortunately, I think it’s a little small to be able to fit a lot of fiber in, I packed it pretty tightly to fit about 2 oz on one tray and 2 oz on the other. I steamed for 45 minutes and then since there seemed to be a lot of unabsorbed dye in the bundles I rearranged the packets (with tongs!) so that bottom ones were on top and steamed for another 30 minutes. Then I let them sit overnight. In the morning I let each bundle sit in water with some vinegar added for a few minutes to rinse out any remaining dye.
Here are some of the results… Top left is the yellow dabbed with grey, top right is the half chestnut and half amazon green dipped bundle, and in front is the one with turqoise poured on.
And the rest: top left is the amazon green alternated with purple, top right is the one with silver poured on, bottom left is the yellow immersion dye, and bottom right is the one on which I painted stripes of yellow, chestnut, and green.
To be honest, I don’t love any of them. I like the chestnut/green and the purple/green overdyes best, but they’re not what I was going for. When I first dyed the yarn/fiber I was hoping for a spring green and all of these are still too electric, especially with the yellow added on. Someone helpfully suggested overdyeing with red or pink, the opposite color on the color wheel, which should help tone down the green. At some point soon, I’m going to do another round of experiments overdyeing with different shades of red. Thankfully this fiber won’t go to waste as the next meeting of my spinner’s guild will be a carding party and all these different colors will be fun additions to art batts!
Have you tried dyeing before? How did you get results you were aiming for? I have always loved hand-dyed yarn but now my respect for the people creating beautiful colorways has gone even higher! Feeling inspired this week? Share with us in the comments below!