I invited my friend Jill over to have a wool dyeing session. She hasn't done this before, so we photographed it for our blogs. Starting with a ghastly photo of me mixing the dyes. I'm using about 1/4 teaspoon of dye powder to a plastic cup of hot water, with a slosh (that's a technical dyeing term, you understand) of white vinegar as the fixative. We are in my kitchen, hence all the pot plants.
Jill had some lovely softly felted merino wool that she wanted to dye. We soaked it briefly in warm water and detergent. This allows the dye to penetrate more easily - it's very hard to hand paint dry wool.
The hanks were gently squeezed, then laid out on a towel to drain for a few minutes while we organised everything.
The skeins are then laid out on plastic wrap, and the dye is painted on with foam brushes. Jill is using Salmon, Cherry Red, Golden Yellow and Rose Pink. She's not sure if she likes the result. You can see some more photos on Jill's blog.
After all the dye is on, the hanks are wrapped up and put in the microwave. I have a dye microwave especially for this purpose. These hanks are around 100 grams so get zapped for 3 minutes, then rested for 2 minutes, then zapped for a further 3 minutes. Smaller hanks only get 2 minutes each time.
I bought 2 hanks of grey fingering wool for $2 each at the Salvation Army store. I decided to use a dark mix of Cherry Red (shown here) and Sangria which is a very deep brownish-red. I found it hard to get the colour right through the hanks so there'll still be some grey in it. These are drying by the fire and I'll post a photo of them when they're dry.
I also test dyed a ball of 80% wool 20% nylon bouclé yarn that I bought for $1.97 at The Warehouse (the NZ equivalent of Wal Mart) just to see how it would take the dye. I mixed a bit of Terracotta into Lemon Drop and came up with this.