Monday, August 3, 2009

Hand Painted Wool Roving Process

Today was a manic Monday dye day! I managed to produce 2 and a half pounds of painted fiber, all 80's grade Merino Wool. Here is a quick glimpse of the new colors...remember they are wet, so the colors will look a bit different next time I show them off.

With the Roving of The Month Club shipping out soon and all these Market showings we've been doing, I really need to schedule repeated Manic Monday Dye Days.

Some have asked a bit about the process of dying wool roving. Here's a few pics I snapped today during the process just to show off.

First the wool has to soak for about thirty minutes in a water and acid solution (acid as in vinegar or citric acid). I use citric acid, just because I am not a huge vinegar smell fan. The smell of wet wool is something else. Some say they hate it, me personally, I love it...but I am a bit of a weird duck.

After the thirty minutes, the wool blossoms and is ready to take the dye. I use many different dying techniques. Depending on how I want the end product to come out. In this example, I laid out the roving and painted the sections in bulk.

This one will be a red and a brownish purple when it's all said and done. In the above picture, the wet wool is laid out on some plastic wrap. The dye was painted onto each section using foam brushes. Once one side is finished, I flip the entire thing and then paint the other side to ensure full dye coverage.

The next step is steaming the wool. This sets in the dye. Now, I personally use the steam method, because when I took my class from the company I buy my dye from they were very insistent that steaming to set the color is the only method anyone should use. Other methods, including microwaving the wool, does not produce longest lasting life of the color you are setting. You can set the dye using different methods, but my color is always set using steam. I want the end product to be the very best quality and I want your creations to last for generations to come. So enough's a steamy pic of the roving soaking up the dye:

The wool has to steam for around 30 minutes and then it is ready to be carefully rinsed (you don't want to felt your new painted roving) and then hung out to dry...see the very first picture.

Along with all the wool I painted today, I also painted 10 new silk scarves. I just recently ordered some new silk to paint, they were a bit smaller than I originally planned, but they are perfect hair ties. I painted a bunch purple, for the University of Central Arkansas's school color. UCA BEARS! I figure they will be cute to tie in your hair to head out to football games. Man I wish football would hurry up and start!

So, that's it for today! Tomorrow we will be in downtown Conway at the Farmers Market. Come see us and check out the new hair ties and new fiber. ♥

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