Happy Caturday!
Happy Caturday!

Dye night

V is fast asleep in her bed. R is downstairs playing his guitar. I'm in the kitchen with four batches of wool and all sorts of colors. It's 9pm and the house is quiet.

I fill the sink halfway with warm water, add a few drops of soap, submerge two batches of wool. I put water on to boil in my special dyeing teapot, which I don't use for any other purpose. I turn on the oven and wipe out my pans to make sure that old colors don't mix with new. I've culled a list of color combination ideas down to four. I put on my protective gloves and gather the colors from my boxes of dye powder. I have two boxes, over 100 colors, to choose from. Sometimes choosing them is as easy as falling off a horse, sometimes much less so.

The kettle just barely begins to whisle so I turn it off. After a good day with the 4-year-old, I don't want any loud. I squeeze the water out of one batch of wool and use it to line a roasting pan, then the other. I'm  impressed with how dirty the water is as I let it drain. I put my measuring cup in the sink. I pour boiling water into the cup and then sprinkle dye power over it and stir for two minutes. Looks like cherry Jello. I fill a squirt bottle with the red dye and then do this twice more with olive and orange. Looks like autumn.

People call it painting. Hand-painted wool. When you find out that really it's just colors splashed on the wool and baked you might think well, what's the big deal? But it really is painting. Because you've got to know your dyes and what they're going to do, though sometimes not knowing is half the fun. Some separate no matter what I do, but that's ok because they separate beautifully. Some reds separate into gray and red. I don't like that much. Purples often separate into blue and purple and I don't like that much either. Sometimes you pour on three colors and end up with six when they separate and they all go together fantastically. Sometimes I mix the dye with just hot water instead of boiling because it's the only way I can get that blue I love, even though it comes attached to the olive. I love the olive too, but I'm still searching for the perfect blue. There are lots of colors I'm still searching for.

Dyes mixed and ready, I put one of the roasting pans over one side of the sink and start squirting dyes onto the wool, being careful to get the dye all the way through it as best I can. I use one hand to sop up the color with the wool. When I'm finished, I put the pan in the oven and start mixing the second batch of colors. The kitchen is hot.

I've got two pans and two pots. Tonight I'm using the pots for semi-solid colors. Quick and easy. Someone would like a pale lavender yarn. I've been searching for just the right lavender for over a year now and haven't found it. I have a new dye that I'm hoping will be it. I measure what I think the right amount of powder will be and mix it with the boiling water. I pour the dye into the pot of water I've filled and stir it. I push the Merino under the dye water. Grape. I'll use this one for a Halloween yarn I have planned and try again for the lavender next time.

Two pans cooling, two pots cooking, I put away all my dyes and other supplies. I scrub the kitchen and my hands. I write down exactly what I've done in case I need to do it again someday. When the pots have cooked long enough, I turn off the heat and cover them. It's 10:30.

Tomorrow I'll rinse everything out and hang it to dry. I turn off the lights. I want a shower, a little knitting, and bed.


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Kristi aka FiberFool

Thanks for the glimpse into your process!


What an intricate process it is. Thanks for letting us peak at the work you do to create such beautiful yarns!

Sosae Caetano

That was a nice post. I love posts like that... So soothing to read the process... :)

Jude Cowell



Fascinating. I don't know anything about dyeing, and it is so cool!

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