Dyeing the Wool

Kool-Aid:

As I was learning and experimenting with various colors, I used Kool-Aid with a little vinegar in the water to dye!  This was done in a crock pot, and I also dyed some using sunlight. It is much like making "sun tea". Here is a "sampler" I made using the various colors.   

Kool Aid Dyeing Kool Aid

Kool-Aid dyeing was a great way to learn while being safe to use in the kitchen and around children (just don't inhale the powder). The colors are vivid, and I found them to even be light-fast. The sampler shown above was kept in a west window for several years. The colors became less vivid, but the drapes in the same window showed much more fading than the wool! Most clothing does not get that much light exposure.

I was hesitant to move beyond Kool-Aid because it bothered me that so many of the professional dyes can be harmful...but the range of shades was so limited. Kool-Aid also has a tendency to "break apart" its colors as the dye is being taken up by the wool. So if the goal is for uniform color, it can lead to frustration. 

Greener ShadesTM:

Then I discovered a product for dyeing wool that is very friendly to both the environment and people.  This is what the Greener Shades website states:

Greener ShadesTM is a non-hazardous, non-chrome, low impact, heavy metal-free acid dye for use on silk, wool, nylon, or any animal fiber. Formulated without the use of hazardous metals, these dyes provides superior light and wash fastness without relying on metal compounds to achieve bright and beautiful colors.

Greener ShadesTM are of superior quality, exhaust well, and have level performance when mixed with each other. These dyes also conform to the Organic Trade Association's standards for Organic Fiber Processing!

Needless to say, I am thrilled to now have a whole spectrum of mixable, beautiful colors opened up to me--without the risk.  The possibilities will keep me experimenting with new color combinations for years!

MyLittleSheep yarn

Dyeing Techniques:

There are many methods for dyeing wool, but my favorite is to dye the roving before it is spun. Another variation is to dye each strand of yarn separately before plying. Many people like to dye yarn after it is completed, but I like the variations of color within a single strand or the difference of color between two strands that are plied. I'm sure you'll develop your own favorite method and effect too!

Babydoll Wool Yarn

There are many, many techniques for dyeing wool, and there are many good books to give ideas and hints. My advice would be to start with your public library. Once you learn a technique that works, experimenting with color variations has the potential for many years of fun!

Next: Spinning.