Tag Archives: dyeing

Guest Post: Hand-Dyeing Fiber With Long Color Repeats

Variegated hand-dyed yarns and fibers are some of my favorite choices when starting a new project, but sometimes those colorful braids and skeins can be a challenge to work with. Especially when it comes to spinning fiber, it can be hard to control where the colors fall as you spin. One fun solution to this problem is to choose a fiber with longer color sections: they can either be a series of differing colors, which would produce a stripe sequence when spun directly from the braid, or a range of tonal values in the same hue, which would produce a gradient effect as you spin.

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to easily dye prepared fiber to achieve long color repeats and gradient effects with as little mess and fuss as possible, allowing you to spin directly from the top to create your yarn.

Ready to get started? You’ll just need some basic supplies which you probably already have on hand. For today’s post, I used Easter egg dyes because they are user-friendly and non-toxic; if you don’t have a stash of Easter egg dye from this past spring as I do, feel free to use kool-aid, food coloring, natural or conventional dyes instead!

Supplies:
1 Easter Egg Dye Kit (I used Paas)
Several large mason jars, plastic cups,  or glass bowls (enough for however many colors you will be using for your fiber)
Distilled White Vinegar
Glass baking dish(es), preferably clear
Spinning Fiber (I used 8 oz. of Louet Jacob sliver)
Gloves
Scale (optional)
Scrap yarn for securing fiber bundles for dyeing

Easter Egg Dyes for Long Color Repeats on Spinning Fiber1. Prep the dye: Click here to read how I prepare to work with Easter egg dye. You can also check out this blog post from the Woolery blog archives for more at-home dyeing instructions. Pro Tip: I recommend mixing more dye than you think you’ll need – spinning fiber can be rather thirsty!

It’s probably easiest to arrange your dyes in a straight line in the order you’d like the colors to appear, but I was short on space, so I arranged my dyes as you see above and worked clockwise from the bottom right.

2. Prep the fiber: Usually, I like to soak the yarn or fiber I’m about to dye in lukewarm water with a little vinegar added; however, I thought it would be easier to work with unsoaked fiber this time around. Honestly, both options would produce wonderful results, it just comes down to a matter of preference.

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Since I was planning to make four large color repeats on the 8oz of undyed Louet Jacob Sliver, I loosely bundled the sliver into four somewhat equal sections by weight.

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To secure each section, I used scrap yarn to wrap around the sliver, which I wound around my hand to make distinct sections.

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Just be sure to leave enough fiber between sections so that you can fit each section in its dye bath without pulling apart the fiber. Also, don’t tie the strings too tightly, or you will have undyed sections on your fiber where the dye wasn’t able to reach.

Spinning Fiber, Ready to Dye in Long Color Repeats!
3. Time to Dye! Beginning with one end of the fiber and your first color, submerge the bundled section in the dye bath. Add the next bundle of fiber to the following dye bath, and so on, until all of your bundles are submerged in their own dye bath.

Dyeing Long Color Repeats on Spinning FiberWork the dye through each section by squeezing it gently. Some of the spinning fiber will still be undyed between each of the color sections; you can either let it sit for a few hours to let the dyes naturally creep up the fiber, or you can use your hands to work the dye through these sections as well.

4. Transfer the Fiber to a Glass Dish: Once you have worked all of the dye through the fiber, you will need to transfer it to a microwave-safe or oven-safe dish (depending on how you plan to set the dye, which we’ll cover in the next section). To do so, you will need to start with one end of your fiber and gently squeeze out all of the excess dye BEFORE transferring it to one end of the dish. Repeat this process, carefully arranging each of the bundles so that they don’t bleed into the next section.

Transferring dyed fiber to a baking dish.

5. Set the Dye: Many folks use the microwave to set the dye, but I prefer using the oven when I dye. A few minutes before I started dyeing, I preheated the oven to 275 degrees F. By the time I was finished with step 4 above, the oven was ready. I put the baking dish of fiber in the oven and set the time for 10 minutes; once it went off, I pulled out the dish and carefully turned over each bundle of fiber, then put the dish back in the over to heat for another 10 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need a little more time – I usually go by whether or not the dye has exhausted by squeezing a small section of fiber to see if dye or clear water comes out. If no dye is released, then it has been exhausted and doesn’t need any more heat!

Hand-Dyed Long Color Repeats on Spinning Fiber.
5. Time to dry:
Once it’s cool enough to handle, gently remove the  fiber and squeeze out any excess liquid over the sink. Find a good place to hang it up to dry where it will be away from sunlight, curious pets or children.

Dyed Gradient Roving - Visit the Woolery Blog for an easy DIY Hand-Dye Tutorial.
6. Time to spin:
Now it’s time for the fun part! I plan to split this 8 oz sliver down the middle so that I can spin two matching singles in the same sequence of colors. It could also make an interesting single or chain-plied yarn spun directly from the sliver as-is. The possibilities are endless!

For any non-spinners out there, these instructions will also work for dyeing skeined yarn or yarn blanks to achieve similar results; I’ve even seen instructions for dyeing caked yarn in a similar manner!

Like anything, there are many, many different approaches to dyeing yarns and fibers in general, as well as to achieve long color repeats and gradients – this is just one way to explore the world of at-home dyeing, and I encourage you to experiment and try other techniques to see which works best for you!

stefaniegrStefanie Goodwin-Ritter is a blogger, knitter, crocheter, spinner, and all-around crafting enthusiast who calls Chicago home. She used to be a dyer at Lorna’s Laces Yarns, but now experiments with hand-dyeing yarn and fiber at home just for fun! You can follow her fibery exploits at handmadebystefanie.blogspot.com.

Guest Post: Wet Felting a Cloche with Sayra Adams

Wet felting tutorial by Sayra Adams on the Woolery blog.

Create a felted cute cloche, that’s fun and cute to wear.

Before I learned to spin yarn, I made ladies’ hats; this led to felting embellishments, hats and other explorations with wool. Felting isn’t hard to do – it’s time consuming, yet very rewarding. These days, everything is NOW, and it’s easy to feel like you’re on overload. Moving back to hands-on crafts is relaxing, fun and cheaper than therapy!

Hats are very flattering, plus they are fun to wear. Popular show such as Downton Abbey always make me want to wear hats, and this vintage-inspired cloche style is reminiscent of what you might see one of the characters wearing. I love wearing hats, and I admit I probably should wear them more.

For those of you new to felting, water, soap and friction (rubbing, etc.) is what makes the felting process happen. Felting is a really fun activity which anyone can enjoy (even little ones!). This project doesn’t require a great deal of supplies: depending on the materials you choose, you can make the hat for around $20-$40. You could use wool roving, a plastic or cardboard resist, and soap because you will be flat felting two sandwiched sections around a resist. Then, after the wool felts enough to pick up and handle-you remove the resist. If you are feeling a little intimidated, fear not – this post will take you through the process step-by-step, and it will make sense as you view the photos below.

I used a basic brown merino, since merino wool felts fastest and it is my preferred fiber to felt with! After I made the hat, I decided it was a little tame, so I dyed it black (because, you know black goes with everything). I recommend picking a color that flatters you, although black is great on everyone.

The materials I used to felt my hat.

The materials I used to felt my hat.

Skills Needed: Patience, basic sewing, and approx. 3 hours of time

Supplies: 
*3.8 oz merino batts, or roving
*matchstick blind, bubble wrap, or textured shelf liner
*2 yards bridal tulle-aids in felt not sticking to the blind
*liquid dish soap
*sewing needle, thread, scissors, straight pins
*millinery grosgrain ribbon
*measuring tape
*resist (made of cardboard or thick plastic-see below)

Optional Supplies:
sewing machine (you may also sew in the headsize band by hand)
hat block (you can use a bowl in a pinch)
ridged wood block
soap saver-ridged bendy tool for shaping thick cord
iron (with steam function)

To make your resist: it is easy to make out of thick plastic or cardboard. The resist should be bell shaped and a bit flared at the bottom. Follow my sketch below to make your resist template:

Template to make a resist for wet felting, visit the Woolery Blog for a tutorial!

Once you have your resist made, you can get started!

Visit the Woolery Blog for a wet felting photo tutorial!
Fig A:
Lay out your tulle, matchstick blind, and two layers of wool. Batts are handy-for felting larger items. Mine peeled apart in layers. Roving take a little patience, place wool evenly.

As seen in Fig B, you must lay your wool in two directions: horizontal one way, and vertical in the other. This aids in felting. Lay the wool about 2” bigger than the resist.

Fig C: Add your resist, then repeat another layer of wool, same as the base (Fig D). You’re making a felt “sandwich” with the resist in the middle. Dribble a tiny amount of liquid soap over the wool. Go easy, since you don’t want a big soapy mess. About 4 small drops of liquid should be enough.

Visit the Woolery Blog for a wet felting photo tutorial!

Fig E: Gently fold the seam edges of the wool over the resist. Then sprinkle water on to moisten the wool (but try not to drench it). If there’s too much water, you can squeeze it out later.

Fig F: Place another layer of tulle on top of the felt, and roll up the matchstick blind. Roll like you’re making dough-for about 3 minutes. Check the hat, see if any of the seam edges have migrated. Continue to roll. Then turn the project, and roll in another direction. Whatever direction you roll, or rub, the hat will shrink in that direction. Keep rolling, and rubbing. Test for “felt” where it feels like the wool is stiffening up. Repeat…and when it gets felted enough, you can remove the resist! (Note: The active felting time can take up to 45 minutes)

Fig G: Oops! Invariably, a ridge might happen on the hat seam. Don’t sweat it. I laid my hat on the hat block, and stitched down the bumpy parts, then continued to roll, and rub. Then I turned my hat inside out to hide it (Fig H). See, there’s always a solution!

Visit the Woolery Blog for a wet felting photo tutorial!

Fig I: This is one way to rub the hat in order to further felt it. Presumably, now you have something remotely hat-shaped: if it’s looking like a bell,you’re heading in the right direction! Now is the time to try it on. If it’s still a bit too big, rub side to side so it shrinks. When it fits the way you want it to, wring the hat out and rinse the soap from it, then put it between two old towels to remove the excess water.

Dyeing a wet felted cloche hat on the Woolery Blog.

I decided to dye my hat black (Fig J). Ideally, you would pick the color of wool you want the hat to be at the start of your project, but sometimes you have a change of heart along the way! I dyed my hat in a glass bowl using acid dye; then I used my microwave on high for 10 minutes to set the dye.

Figs K-M: Use the bowl as a blocking device to shape your hat. You can use steam from an iron to help flatten out the crown tip. Using the thick cord placed about halfway down the hat block, I made a sweatband crease, which is where the optional sweatband will go. I highly recommend taking this extra step because sweatbands are an excellent buffer between you and the wool – this way your forehead won’t itch!

To add your sweatband, you can either sew it in with a sewing machine (a little tricky) or sew it in by hand, which might be easier, depending on your sewing skills and confidence. If it doesn’t work, pull the stitches out and start over!

Wet felted hat project - visit the Woolery blog for step by step instructions!

Fig N: Cut your grosgrain ribbon to fit; you can measure your head by wrapping the tape measure around and choosing an area where the hat would rest naturally. I usually take my measurements at about an inch above the eyebrows, and just over the ears. Add two inches to your overall head measurement to determine the length you should cut the grosgrain ribbon.

Using an iron, “curve” the grosgrain ribbon to make it easier to sew into the hat. It will flex, because millinery grosgrain has flexible edges. Fold the ribbon end over, and pin the 2inches under. Test to see if it fits your head, then divide into fourths, making with a pin (Fig O).

Fig P: Pin equally into the inside of the hat on the sweatband crease.

Fig Q: Slowly sew the sweatband using a sewing machine, or by hand. Sewing with a machine will give it a neater appearance. You may match the grosgrain ribbon with the thread to match the hat, on in this example, I used black thread for the bobbin to match the black felt.

Learn to wet felt a cloche hat on the Woolery Blog!I chose to cut my hat brim down some: I made it 1 inch in the back and slowly tapered to about 2 inches in the front. I used a piece of white chalk to mark the space where I needed to cut, then used a pair of very sharp scissors to cut it, saving a piece of felt to use for the hat band embellishment. To see how I make a rosette motif with art yarns, click here for instructions. Otherwise, enjoy your hat without ornament!

sayraSayra Adams (formerly known as Hatdiva) started making fanciful, romantic ladies’ hats in 1991. Her innate gift using color led to many fun hat designs. After years of dyeing silks and fashioning straw hats, she switched gears and began felting with wool…and an obsession for all things wool began! You can follow her fibery exploits at www.atomicbluefiber.com.