Busy, busy, busy

So much to do and so little time to do it in. We’ve been looking at universities for our Daughter who’s 18 tomorrow (how did that come round so quickly?), organising birthday shenanigans, working at wool shows, sorting and washing fleece, teaching felt making and today I’ve been busy dyeing.

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The green is more vibrant than this photo makes it look. I wish I had more time to chat with you but I’m off to do a little more work on a new bag I’m playing with. See you soon.

Space dyeing

It was such lovely weather on Sunday that I thought I’d get a bit of dyeing done.


After soaking the roving I laid it out, applied dye in sections and then steamed it to set the dye. A good rinse later,a very good spin and they’re hanging out to dry. You can see I used a half full (of water) milk carton to weight them initially to help keep the roving smooth.

Playing with dye

At Adelaide Walker we sell a blend of Jacob/bamboo which is lovely to felt with. For ages now I’ve been wondering what it would look like if I dyed it with fibre reactive dye. My expectation was that the bamboo fibre would be dyed but the wool would not. Experimentation time!


This is the Jacob/Bamboo before I began. Lovely isn’t it?


This is the fibre afterwards and it looks waaay better than I’d hoped. The brown of the Jcaob wool makes the pink of the Bamboo look even deeper and richer. Whilst I was at it I also dropped in some cotton muslin, tussah silk and corn fibres. The corn fibre is over on the left and you can see that it took very little colour at all.


I’ve spun a little up just to see what it would look like after a hot wash,I was worried that a lot more colour would come out but it hasn’t and it’s so gorgeous I’m in love. I wish I’d dyed up more of it.

Added – I should have said how I dyed this – I soaked the jacob/bamboo fibres in cold water with a tiny drop of soapfor an hour. Then I added the fibre reactive dye and left overnight. The cotton and silk I wet under the tap (no soaking because it was too late by then) and added to the dye bath. I added salt to fix the dye and rinsed the silk and cotton in hot water after dyeing to remove any excess. I rinsed the jacob/bamboo in tepid not hot water because I didn’t want it to felt. After I’d spun it into yarn I did wash with hot soapy water to remove any excess dye.

Dyeing silk cocoons and rods

I’ve been having a little play with food colouring dyeing of silk cut coccon and rods.


Take 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar plus a few drops of food coliuring. Place your rods and / or cocoons into the solution, cover and microwave for 2 minutes, stir then microwave for a further 2 mins.


Lift carefully from the water as they will be soft and could be squished out of shape. Leave on a rack to dry. As you’re using food colouring it’s safe to use normal bowls and your kitchen mircowave.

If you remove the sericin from the rods you can actually peel the layers of silk apart and felt it into your work. With the gum removed the cocoons will collapse into a silk blob which may also be used in felt making. Leave them whole and stitch into them and if you have any silk paints in the house you can use those too.

A little bit of dyeing

In the good weather this week I’ve managed to get a little dyeing of Blue Faced Leicester fleece done.


I used a spinner to drain a lot of the water off and the sun and wind undertook the majority of the drying work.


A final drying overnight.

Colour change

You start with a little bit of Wensleydale woolliness

Then you add a little dye and cook in the steamer. It’s really simple but I don’t like the smell of the dye and had to have the door open – so cold! Remove excess water with one of these.

Yes, I know it’s called a salad spinner but in my house it’s used as a wool spinner to rid the fleece of excess water and it works really well on small amounts. Much better than leaving it dripping, or damping with a towel as less likely to felt in the process. A small handle but it spins very quickly and forces the fleece against the walls allowing the water to drain away – look.

It looks so lovely now.

My new, temporary kitchen decoration.

Dyeing muslin

This last batch of dyeing was far less stressful than some, for starters I didn’t drop a bowlful of dye on the floor and splash it all up the wall. As it’s muslin I used fibre reactive dyes and it’s a cold process so the house wasn’t full of the smell like it is when I’m dyeing wool.

Three dye baths, red, blue and green. You can clearly see the difference from red to mid pink to pale pink. There’s a blue missing as there was no difference between dye bath 1 and 2 but you can see dye bath 3 is much paler. The green was intended to be a yellow green and the first dye bath used up most of the yellow with the second using up more of the blue. You can see it more clearly in the next photo.

Love the red and blue, really like the first yellow green but don’t like the pale green. As the dyes weren’t exhausted I finished them off by dyeing some ramie fibres.

Does this happen to you?

It was very hot here yesterday so my daughter and friends arranged to spend the day at the Lido, Mum had a trip to the local park for a picnic, the kids next door played footie all day so what did I do? Gardening, sunbathing? No, of course not, perfect weather for washing and dyeing fleece.

No room for barbecue food here just lots of fabulous Teeswater fleece drying in the sun. It was so hot that it dried quickly, was picked over again and bagged up ready for my next workshop. I also managed to sort out a Wensleydale fleece that’s been waiting my attention for far too long.

No room here for clothes either. You can see I also managed to sort and wash a Whitefaced Woodland fleece. It looked nice before but it’s so white now I can’t wait to get it carded and start some felting. As usual, I struggled with some of the dyeing but I did eventually work out why the yellow dye didn’t work and turn the wool orange – because the yellow dye was a fibre reactive dye! One day I’ll get the hang of this (I hope). All the dyeing I did in the steamer was fine because I used a dye solution I’d previously made up.

It’s a nice feeling to have this wool, washed, dyed and packed away. I’d be happy to do some felting in the sun today but the family are forcing me to go for a bike ride no doubt I’ll enjoy it when I get there.


The intention was to put at least three lots of fibres through this dyebath with the result that each successive batch would be paler as the dye became exhausted. It probably would have worked too, if I hadn’t boiled the bath dry. Instead the pink got stronger and it’s not a favourite shade with me. Oh well, time to reach for the carders I guess. Sometimes I wonder why I bother, I’m not sure that me and dyeing is a natural match.

Purple and turquoise

Purple and turquoise is the colour of my hands today. I began my dyeing very well yesterday, wearing my mask and gloves and then my gloves sprang a leak and it all went downhill from there. The blanket is 100% wool and I’ve tried to full it by boiling and pummelling but I couldn’t get it to full and so have opted to dye it and use it anyway, I think the purple half is my favourite. But if you’re dyeing one thing you may as well do a few others whilst you’re at it.

One of these yarns is a coarse rug yarn which I rescued from a skip and it takes the dye beautifully. I also dyed some silk chiffon, Teeswater fleece, BFL roving and lambswool yarn. The purple dye bath didn’t look exhausted so I reused it and it’s given the pink you see below.

Yummy and at least I didn’t tip the dye all over the floor and cat food bowls like I did last time.