Indie Wool Dyer

So the holidays are over. The decorations are packed away and the kids are all set to go back to school. I took a break away from the needles and spent time getting some new vibrant coloured wool ready to brighten the new year. 

I love hand dying. There is something rather exciting about watching the wool gently soak up colour and transform into something new and exciting to knit with. So how do I do it?

Its really rather simple. First of all you need a good quality wool. Acrylic just doesnt work well, a good natural protein based fibre (fibres that have come from an animal) really does work best. I used Blue Faced Leicester wool.

I use my slow cooker to dye all my wool. You can buy some slow cooker liners if you are worried about staining your cooker an unusual colour.

You will also need some vinegar and some dye - I use Wiltons food colouring.

The wool will need to be loosely wound into a skein and tied in several places to prevent it from getting tangled. Its important that the wool is wound in this way so that the wool can absorb the dye easily.

1. First you need to soak the wool. In a bowl, make up a mixtute of warm water and vinegar. I put about 1 cup of vinegar in a bowl of water. Gently push the wool in the water and leave to soak for around half an hour.

2. Get the slow cooker ready. In the bottom of the cooker, mix half a teaspoon of dye with a cup full of warm water. 

3. Once the wool has finished soaking, gently lift it into the slow cooker. Push it down into the dye mix, then top up with warm water to cover the wool. It is really imporant the water is neither hot or cold - the wool can easily be shocked and will then start to felt.

4. Put the slow cooker on HIGH and leave for around 1-2 hours. When the water is clear, you can either lift the wool out, or add more dye if you want a darker colour.

5. Put the wool in a drainer and leave to cool for around half an hour. When the wool is cool to touch, run the tap so the water is around the same temperature as the wool - you really really dont want to felt your wool at this point! Rinse the wool well and then gently squeeze the excess water from it.

6. You need to find somewhere for your wool to dry - it could take a day or 2. I use hooks in the ceiling with a towel underneath (and well away from my children and pets!).

7. Once the wool is completely dry, you can re wind into a skein or ball.

Ta da. Hand dyed wool.

Hope you find this useful.