Dyed-in-the-Wool (1)

gardenbug(Canada zone 5)November 11, 2006

I want to knit a jacket for my daughter, so went to my neighbour's to buy the wool. Donna raises goats, operates a mill too. So I chose a pattern, bought a skein of wool I liked, and knit a swatch to test the tension of my work. It turned out perfectly.

Donna did not have a sufficient quantity of wool on hand of the same dye lot, so she said she'd brew up a batch for me. I need 10 skeins. She said I could come watch too.

So today I whipped over to her place with camera in hand:

Donna had mixed the dyes before I arrived. They come in a powdered form and are 'weak acid dyes'.

Here you see the dye containers. Squeezing the container fills the measure you see at the top of each jar. It is a dripless system. There are 2 containers of each of three colours, because of the quantity of wool I need. Each container is used once, just in case there is a slight variance in colour.

Saran wrap is spread on a flat surface, a moist skein placed on top of it. Working in thirds, each colour is applied once.

The first third:

The second third done...

Almost finished now!

The wool is then covered in the plastic wrap:

Next, leaving the ends open, the wool is pressed flat from right to left until no raw wool is showing.

Donna then rolls it up, jelly roll style, tucking the last end under a bit:

Following this, the completed bundles are placed in a hot steam bath for 45 minutes.

Donna will be at the Agricultural Winter Fair tomorrow, so next week she will dry and make the wool into skeins again. Then I'll buy needles (mine are too short for this project), rustic wood buttons and get a move on! Christmas is coming!

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But I want to know why you never bothered to take a picture of "Igor"? all those bottles, all that mixing... there has to be an Igor she keeps hidden who helps her out...


The wool is still encased in the plastic wrap for the steam bath?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 4:29PM
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This is very interesting. Thank you 'bug and Donna for allowing us to see portions of how it is done.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 5:22PM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Very very neat! Love the colors. I wish I knitted. I'd love a sweater in those colors.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 6:12PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Well Chelone, no Igor there! Her husband is an enthusiastic team member though. You can find out more about this mill on their website:
I believe there is a photo of the sheep or goats there.
Yes, the wrap is kept on the wool during the steaming process. The wool is on a low shelf so does not come in direct contact with the water.

Deanne, you could make yourself a scarf, a good way to start. But I wonder if it wouldn't drive a creative lady like you crazy! It is quite repetitive, especially when you are learning. Did you know that sailors used to knit? It was men's work then. Maybe Doug would enjoy it!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 8:09PM
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What an interesting process. It looks like quite the place. I've never learned to knit but crocheted quite a lot a number of years ago. There's so much to learn here on the Idylls.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 9:57PM
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veronicastrum(z5 IL)

Thank you! I've often drooled over threads and yarns dyed in such a manor, but I've never seen such a wonderful photo illustration of the process.

'bug, your photography skills are a treasure!


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 4:16PM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Thank you all! The garment has been started as of today. Too bad I won't have time to work on it steadily, but I'll try to hurry along!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 5:19PM
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