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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Overdyeing: Blah Wool Gets a Face Lift

Yesterday I skeined off 2000 yds of gray Romney/Mohair two ply yarn and thought, "Blech.  This gray does nothing for me."  The roving was scrumptious - top quality from Peeper Hollow Farm - but the yarn did nothing for me.  I had spent weeks making this yarn and I wasn't about to give up on it.  Dye to the rescue!

I decided on blue so I did color samples from my four favorite colors of blue dye.  Color sampling is easy in the microwave oven.  Here's how I did it.

I took four little bits of gray roving and put them in water plus a drop of dish detergent to soak while I got everything else ready.  Then I found four quart canning jars and put labels on each one - sky blue, brilliant blue, royal blue, navy.  I added one teaspoon of liquid dye, one teaspoon of vinegar, and a cup of water to each jar.  Now I had 4 little dyebaths ready to go.

Each bit of fiber went into its own jar of dye.  I then put all four jars in the microwave oven and brought the dye to a boil - about 4 minutes.  I then set the microwave to half power, and six minutes, and let it cook.  By the time the dinger went off, each dyebath was exhausted and the fiber was dyed.

I fished out the blobs of dyed fiber with a fork (too hot for fingers) and pressed them between thick layers of paper towels to get most of the water out.  This is what I ended up with.  From left to right the colors are, royal blue, sky blue, navy, and brilliant blue.

My favorite was somewhere between the sky blue and royal blue, so I got all my big skeins wetted down and prepared the dyebath.  I had two pounds of fiber.  I put in enough sky blue dye for one pound (that's all I had) and added enough Royal blue for four ounces.  I filled the canner and added the ten skeins of yarn.  My hope was to get a medium denim blue, also known as "Scandinavian Blue".  And this is what I got!  You can see the original gray fiber and yarn sample in contrast to overdyed yarn.

The luster of the Romney and Mohair is very evident in the finished yarn.  It has a depth that dyed white wool could never have, as the darker fibers are still darker in the final yarn. I don't think "blech" when I look at my new yarn - Now I love it.  All the work was worth it.  And the dyepot saved the day, again.


  1. beautiful! I forget how much depth starting with gray gives to yarn/fiber.

  2. Very nice collection and so beautiful never forget for everyone.Thanks for nice post..