Sunday, April 5, 2009

The wooly experiments continue...

So, last post i wrote about my adventures into the world of spinning wool by hand with a drop spindle. I had tremendous fun and here is the final product after i had set the wool. Below that is an example of how the wool looks knitted up. Unfortunately, i don't really have enough to do much with but i plan on using this wool for some art dolls hair. In the first picture, the wool is still wet and the color doesn't really pop like it does in the dried and knit picture.


Now as i had promised, i was going to share my experience with DYING wool. It is extremely limited so don't look to me as offering you the gospel on the subject. As some of you may know, i have been a hair dresser for almost 20 yrs. There are some basic facts of hair and coloring that i figured would apply pretty well to dying wool. I had previously read about dying wool with Kool-Aid and had tried other ways of doing it to very unsatisfactory results. That's when my hairdressing experience kicked in.

The rule of thumb for hair is that HEAT and ALKALINITY open the cuticle layer (or the outside of the shaft of the hair) which allows color to be removed or deposited into the center of the hair. COOL and ACID will cause this same cuticle layer to close and trap deposited color within the hair shaft. I wasn't certain but thought it was a good bet that the same would apply to wool.

I took my pre-spun wool and immersed it in enough water to soak it but no more than what it would hold. I placed the wool in a microwavable glass bowl deep enough that the wool was completely below the upper edge. I donned my heavy duty rubber gloves and opened 3 packs of fruit punch flavored Kool-Aid. I sprinkled these liberally all over the wool as i fliped the wool over, making sure to not be too even with application as i wanted variations in the color. Then i placed a microwave safe saucer on top of the dish and placed the whole shebang in my microwave for 5 minutes on high. I checked on the wool at this point, careful not to burn myself -- really freaking HOT! I added just about 1/2 an ounce of HOT water at this point to keep the wool from drying out... i didn't want a fire. I then returned the wool back into the microwave for another 5 minutes.

When complete, i took the wool out of the dish and placed it carefully on a sheet of waxed paper to keep my counters clean and then let the wool cool down. Once it became cool enough to be close to room temperature, i immersed it into a clean sinkful of cool water that i had added about 1 ounce of vinegar to. Carefully, i swished the wool about and noted that very little of the color was coming out. Once i was satisfied with this, i emptied the sink and rinced the wool carefully in cool water once more and straightened it out on a white towel to dry. There was virtually zero color transfer to the white towel and this is how the color turned out with the wool when it dried!


Some parts are a very bright rich red and some are a softer pink. I don't think these pictures really do the wool justice. I am now looking forward to trying this with more colors... PLEASE don't try this method on your own head though... heads are not made for microwaves.

7 comments:

  1. Ooh, looks like you got great results! I hope to try this myself someday.

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  2. that's really great that you were able to take knowledge from one skill and apply it to another! good thinking!

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  3. very cool!!! I can't believe you spun that! I'm very impressed :)

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  4. I love how you explained this! I've been wanting to try dying wool myself. I can't wait to do so.

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  5. Kristen tried this too and had good results, did you see her post?

    http://knitandpearlchicago.blogspot.com/2009/02/hot-grape-kool-aid-stinks.html

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  6. My dh used to die his mohawk with koolaid, I believe! What an inspiration!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing!

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