Friday, October 3, 2008

Life of Yarn - Dyeing

The Life of Yarn series is my attempt to share the process from fiber (on the animal) to finished yarn. Each is just a glimpse into a moment in the life of yarn and yarnmaker.

Most everyone knows that fabric comes from yarn or thread which comes from cotton, sheep or synthetics. But how does it really GET there? From farm to cloth? In the next few week’s I’ll be working through and documenting this process. Today: The Color

After the fleece is clean and dry (although, really, I don't see why it needs to be dry), I dye the fiber. This is hardly the only way to do it. In fact, it's time for a digression on the creativity of the process.

There are 1000s different way to move fiber from animal to yarn. I've been showing how I did it, for this one fleece. If you're following along, planning for your own fleece, just keep in mind that there are a zillion little chances for creativity. You can dye the fiber in lock form (like I'll demonstrate), once it's carded or once you've spun it into yarn. You can card it or comb it or send it out to be processed by a mill. You can mix all different colors together into one batts or spin rovings of different colors together. This process is full of little decisions. Don't get confused or bogged down in choosing one or the other. A fleece is a lot of fiber, plenty to play with, so experiment! Split it up into 1 lb sections and treat each section differently. With this fleece I'm leaving a pound undyed and dyeing the rest in 2 oz (or bigger) sections, then carding together the different colors
(by the way, I'm creating a limited edition line of yarn using only the fiber from this one fleece, it'll be in the Boutique in late October). When this is fleece, I plan on doing it all over again (documenting and sharing it here, of course) using different dyeing, carding and spinning techniques.

Ok, now on to the dyeing.

When it comes out of the microwave it looks like this:
Jar dyeing
I know I say it a few times in the video but by all means, leave it alone and let it cool!
Once the fiber is cool and has been rinsed, I put it back outside, on a rug, to dry.

Dyed Coopworth

Oooh, such pretty colors! ALL of them from Easter Egg dyes! I've achieved different depths of color by pouring off some of the dye liquid into another glass jar and adding water.

Dyed Coopworth

Once dry, they get carded and spun, tune in next week for carding!
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