Dyeing up some roving…

Handdyed goodness!

I thought it’d be nice to try my hand at dyeing since I’m all into spinning and weaving. It would also make a nice addition to this secret project that I’ve been working on.

At the moment, I’m using food dyes, which are safer and easier to obtain. Note, the word “easier” here is relative. Easy for me because I have a stash of Wilton’s Icing colours from my cake decorating days. Not so easy if you’re living in a country where food colourings are hard to come by – Kool Aid is not even available in stores here!!! And by here, I mean Neuchâtel.

Anyway, all you need when it comes to dyeing with food dyes is some vinegar (to lock in the colours) and heat to fix them (so that they don’t bleed every time they come into contact with water or moisture). Food dyes are not permanent though; if you leave handdyed items out in the sun, they will fade, but if take care of well enough, the colour can last a while.

The rovings were soaked in water and vinegar (I used nearly 700 ml of white table vinegar) overnight; more is always better – that’s what I got from reading all those DIY dyeing guides. After draining the excess water, I plopped them down on some saran wrap/cling wrap/shrink wrap and proceeded with the task of handpainting them. I used Creamy Peach, Delphinium Blue (*) + Royal Blue, and Pink + Aster Mauve (*) for the smaller braid. For the larger one, I used No Taste Red + Burgundy, Brown + Black (*), Ivory, Golden Yellow, and Pink + Aster Mauve (*). At the moment, the quantities are approximately 1/8 of a teaspoon to a small plastic cup of water with several drops of vinegar. The water isn’t the one that determines the intensity of the colour – it’s the quantity of the colourant to the yarn that is the determining factor.

After handpainting them, I gingerly rolled up these rovings – by now they would look like sausages – and placed them on a steamer for 30 minutes before turning the fire off and allowing it to sit in the wok until it cools to room temperature. Patience is a virtue. After which, a “wash” to check if the colours still run – if yes, more “washing” is needed; if not, then the rovings are ready to dry and later on, good for spinning! The colours do appear darker when they are still wrapped up but after washing, they are slightly lighter though…except for the parts where I had more dye in the solution.

Personally this needs more work. The Creamy Peach turned out more orange than peach (too much dye, I suspect) and the Golden Yellow & Ivory look almost the same (except for the part where I left some bits of dye gel on the yarn). The Black had a green tinge, which is great except that it wasn’t exactly what I was going for and the Red + Burgundy looks almost like Aster Mauve. Again, my problem appears to be that I have too much dye for most of my colours so everything is super bright… And what’s worse is that when I’m pouring it, I forget to leave a space in between colour transitions and I over-poured as well, resulting in a mixture of colours.

O’well…we’ll see how this looks spun up – most of the time, spinning and plying can yield a completely different colour combo.

(*) denotes which is the dominant colour.

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