Tag Archives: acid dyes

Big day dyeing

I managed to sneak in a really big day of dyeing when we had a rare dry and warm day a week or so ago.  I dyed 60 skeins in one day.   I had 4 dye pots going most of the time.

yarn drying

Sock yarn

By the end of the day, I had my drying rack filled with yarn that had been dyed, rinsed, washed, rinsed, and in a vinegar bath for a final color set.

drying rack, side 2

Lace and Royal Baby

The rack had to come inside to finish drying, some was still dripping, but I was thrilled with my accomplishment.

Now it is all re-skeined and looking very pretty.  All ready to go to out on the town!

sock yarn

Sock yarn

This is my sock yarn.  It is 95% alpaca, 5% nylon, 300 yards, $25 each.   It will still felt, so will make great felted mittens as well as socks or hats or scarves.  The nylon will give it more durability.  The skeins in the photo are stacked 2 deep except the 2 skeins are on the far right.

super soft yarn

Royal Baby yarn

This is my super soft yarn, under 20 microns, royal baby 100% alpaca, 300 yards, $25 each.  You need to feel this to believe it!  Great for anything you want next to your skin!  Again, the skeins are 2 deep, so there is 600 yards of most colors.

lace yarn

Lace weight yarn

And lastly, this is my lace weight yarn, 100% alpaca, 300 yard skeins, $18.  Perfect for shawls or scarves.

A few skeins have already be spoken for, but the remainder will be going to Llama Magic and Fiber Friends festival on May 10 – 11 and then on to Shepherd’s Harvest on May 17 – 18.  I look forward to seeing all my fiber family at these events.


Dyeing roving again

Last fall, I wrote about my first attempts to dye alpaca roving.   Ever since, I’ve been wanting to dye more roving.  And I finally got to it.

undyed roving

Chained roving

I weighed out one ounce of alpaca roving and starting with the ends held together, I chained the roving.  Each of the above chains are about four feet long.  Then following the methods I had used last fall, I dyed each chain.

roving in pan

Ready for the roaster

And here they are:

3 chains of dyed roving

Dyed roving

From light turquoise to dark, another from pale pink to lavender, the last from bright sunshine to florescent green!

roving again

Another view

These are now for sale at Anoka Fiber Works, $5/ per one ounce chain. Ready to spin or blend on a blending board.

I think I’ll try dyeing some fawn roving next.

A bit of dyeing

I like to keep a bit of un-dyed yarn on hand in case I need to make something special.  But the 2013 fiber I sent to Rach-Al-Paca should be spun into yarn and ready for pick up in another month or so.  Yesterday I wound the last of my 2012 yarn into big skeins and dyed it.  I wanted some nearly solid colors to knit into headbands.

dyed yarn

Freshly dyed

This morning the big skeins are nearly dry.  Looks like they’ll need a little more time to dry before I can wind them into balls and knit.

In other news, I have only one craft show left for the year.  It is at Oak View Elementary in Maple Grove on Dec 7.   My alpaca wares are also available at Anoka Fiber Works in Coon Rapids and are always available in my online shop.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I want to wish everyone a wonderful day.  I’m so thankful for my family and my fiber friends and all my customers who support my very small business.  Happy Thanksgiving!

But does it spin?

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, so dyeing roving is only successful if yarn can be spun from said roving! 

And so I took the roving I dyed in my first and second dyeing sessions and set about spinning it.  I was able to gently pull the roving to unchain the finger chains I  made before dyeing. 

Single ply on the bobbin

Single ply on the bobbin

And it spun up into a colorful single.  I just spun one chain after the other until all were done.  On the right end of the bobbin is the chain that had the mixed dyed on the underside, resulting in brown dyed roving.  But once spun, it just appears as a darker version of the colors.  I think I prefer it to the lighter colored yarn.

single ply ball

Singles in a ball

I then wound the single ply into a ball to ply it from the center pull ball.

2-ply yarn

2-ply yarn

If I were a better spinner and had spun a much finer single, it would have been fun to see this navaho-plied.  But even as a traditional 2-ply yarn, I rather like it.

skein of yarn

Skein of yarn

The resulting yarn is very squishy and so far I’ve just been petting it and holding it.  I think I will keep it to show the dyeing results.

I gave a chain to Mary of Spinning Magic so she could spin it on a spindle.

single ply


Here is her single ply yarn on her Turkish Spindle.

2-ply yarn


And Mary’s after plying.


Finished yarn

This is the finished yarn spun on a spindle.  I have not seen this yarn in person yet, but it looks to have spun up with ease too. 

I’m so happy with my dyeing attempts and the resulting yarn.  I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with my roaster and dyeing more roving!

Dyeing Roving — part 2

In my post on my first attempt at dyeing alpaca roving, I mentioned a tip from a friend.  Here it is:

shelf liner

Secret weapon

What is that in my pan?  It is that rubbery kind of shelf liner.  Here’s how I used it. 

Again, I made finger chains of the roving.

chained roving

Chained roving

I put them on the shelf liner, rolled it up jelly-roll style and soaked it in the citric acid water.  By having the mushy roving stablized by the shelf liner, I was able to squeeze out more of the excess water and squirt on more dye. 

chains with dye

Chains with dye

The chains are laying hortizontal in the photo, so the dye is striped across.   I used my roaster for heating the fiber and I was much less worried about scorching the roving than when I used the oven.  Plus, my roaster is dedicated to dyeing.  Oven is out, roaster is in!

top of chains


After being heated and allowed to cool, I rolled the fiber and shelf liner back into the jelly roll and rinsed the fiber.  Again, the shelf liner really helped hold the fiber together.

bottom of chain

Bottom side

The colors pooled together some on the bottom and created some brown dye.  At first I thought this was a bad thing, but it gives a whole different color dimension to the yarn.  I think it is a good thing when I can see the future!

dyed chains


The three chains separated easily for drying.

Then I tried another idea. 

coiled roving

coiled roving

 I took a bunch of the coiled roving and rolled it up in the shelf line without chaining it.

coiled roving

Coiled roving

I wanted to see if it would be stable with just the shelf liner and not the effect of chaining. 

dyed on roving

Dye on

Again, I striped on the dye and cooked it in my roaster.  (clothes pins on the pan held the shelf line in place and made it easy to pick up the pan)

bottom of coil

Bottom of coil

The coil was thicker than the chains and the dye didn’t quite make it to the bottom.  I’ve been very cautious about poking the roving too much or trying to turn it over to see the bottom. 

Unwrapping the dyed coil

Unwrapping the dyed coil

The coiled roving after rinsing was still easy to unwrap.  My dilemna with dyeing the coiled roving is that I would either have to stuff the roving in a bag for sale or roll it into a ball.  I’m not sure if either of those choices is as good as having the roving already chained into a braid that is easy to show off. 

I feel the dyeing of the roving is pretty successful.  It doesn’t seem to have felted.  But the true test will come in the spinning!  I will share that with you another day.

Have you tried dyeing roving?  What are your secrets for success?

Facing my fears

Have you tried spinning alpaca fiber that has been commercially processed and pin-drafted?   It looks like this:

coils of alpaca fiber

Pindrafted Roving

This is how my alpaca fiber looks when I have it processed into roving at Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Mill.  It is a dream to spin.  It drafts so smoothly and effortlessly.  But for some time, I’ve been wanting to dye my roving.  I have dyed raw alpaca fiber and lots of alpaca yarn, but the roving is so delicate, I was afraid to try dyeing it.  I asked questions, got ideas, listened to opinions and was still scared.  I just didn’t know if it would hold up during mordanting, heating, and rinsing.  Would it fall apart?  Would it felt?

Finally, I decided the worst is that I would fail.  Maybe I would have a small pile of ruined felted fiber.  I could be careful not to burn the house down, so I screwed up all my courage and just tried something. 

First, I very carefully finger chained some roving.  I was hoping this would help it hang together.  I made 3 short lengths.

chained roving

About 18 inches of chain

Then for scary part, I put citric acid in water and let the chains sink into the water for a half hour.  I planned to use commercial acid dyes which need either citric acid or vinegar to set the color. 

fiber in water

Chain is sinking in the water

When I scooped the fiber out of the water is was like mush in my hand. I could not see any definition of the chaining.  I very gently squished out some of the water and put the fiber in a pan.

dyed fiber

Dyed fiber

I squirted some dye on the fiber.  I think I left too much water in this one and the dye got diluted and ran from the fiber.

dyed fiber

Pan #2

I squeezed out a bit more water from the other chains and squirted on some dye.  At this point I was not very concerned about the results of the dyeing in terms of the resulting color.  I felt confident I could rectify any issues with the color.  Then came the really scary part!   I put the aluminum pans in my oven and baked the fiber.  (hence the concern of burning the house down!)  My reason to use the oven was that no agitation would be required.  I had never tried dyeing in a regular oven, so I watched it pretty carefully.   I didn’t want it to get dry and scorch.

dyed fiber

Wet chains

When the fiber had cooled from the baking, I gently rinsed it and laid it on a towel to dry.  It was pretty flat and lifeless.  I had my doubts that it would be spinnable, but…

dried fiber

Dry and fluffy

by the next morning it was dry and had fluffed itself to its nearly pre-dyed state.  I was able to gently un-chain the first chain and it seemed like it had not felted.

That was my first attempt and I considered it a success.  I did decide that I didn’t like using the oven.  I could achieve the same lack of agitation if I steamed the aluminum pans in my roaster as I do for the felting fiber and yarn. 

A few days later I got a suggestion and tried again.  But you will have wait for another day to hear that story!

Dyeing, drying, winding, felting, knitting…..

It is crunch time!  Down to the last few days before Shepherd’s Harvest.  I’ll leave Friday morning to set up my booth.  I’ll stay near by and be at the festival Saturday and Sunday.  At the end, I’ll pack up my booth and come back Sunday night.  A lot of work, but one of my favorite weekends of the year.  I so look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new friends and absorbing all things fiber! 

On Monday I dyed yarn.  I had 8 skeins of lace weight.

Lace weight yarn

Lace weight

Here is the lace, just out of the dye pots.

lace yarn

Lace in skeins

Each skein is 4 ounces of 100% alpaca lace weight, about 600 yards, $20.

bulky yarn

Bulky yarn

The above are my 4 skeins of bulky, still wet.

bulky skeins

Bulky in skeins

This is 100% alpaca, bulky weight, 6 oz skeins, $27 each.

sport weight yarn

Sport weight yarn

And this is the sport weight yarn I dyed.  It was so heavy, I had to add a brace to my fancy drying rod! 

sport weight skeins

Sport weight skeins

I have 16 new skeins of sport weight yarn – 100% alpaca, 6 oz, $27.

I just have to get labels on this yarn and it will be ready to be packed for the festival.   I want to get one more batch of 10 dryer balls felted today.  And I got a surprise delivery of black yarn for wrist warmers. So I hope to get a few knit.  

I hope to see you all at Shepherd’s Harvest!  It is such a fun weekend. Bring your Mom!  She’s sure to find the perfect Mother’s Day gift for you to buy her! 


Dyeing felting fiber

I believe I have mentioned my intention to dye two fleeces that were tender.  Tender fiber means that there is a stress point in each fiber and when stressed it will easily break at this point.  This makes the fiber undesirable for spinning into yarn but perfect to use for felting.  So I set about dyeing it for felters.

dyeing fiber

Dye pans

I put the dye and fiber into aluminum pans over the steaming water in my roaster and heated it.  I didn’t wash the fiber before dyeing since it would need to be washed after dyeing.  This made for a rather stinky dye pot. 

alpaca fiber in a bucket

Washing the fiber

I let the fiber cool over night in the dye water, then washed and rinsed, and washed again!  It was pretty dirty.  Then one last rinse with a glug of vinegar added.  I spun the water out in the wash machine and hung the fiber to dry. 

fiber in 4 colors

Dyed fiber

Here is the result!  There is some color variation since the fiber had some tighter locks where the dye didn’t penetrate, but I didn’t want to agitate it too much for fear of felting it. But it came out very nice, not felted at all. 

My question for you felters:  Do you prefer your felting fiber to be carded or not carder?


Dyed and gone!

A while back, I spent some time dyeing more yarn.  This time it was mostly lace weight and bulky weight alpaca yarn, plus some sport weight for custom orders. 

newly dyed yarn

Side one of rack

This is half the yarn on the drying rack.

rack of yarn

Side two of the yarn

The lace is near the top and bulky near the bottom.  Then I got it all re-skeined, labeled and took it to the Upper Midwest Fall Fiber Festival.   And a bunch of it sold before I remembered that I forgot to take a picture to show you all the pretty skeins.

bulky yarn

Remainder of bulky skeins

These are the bulky skeins I have left.  The first 4 are 6 oz skeins, the bright turquoise is 8 oz.  And I have one more cone of white to dye.  The bulky sells fast.  Most of this is now at the Anoka Fiber Co-op, so check it out there or let me know if I should grab one to save for you!

lace yarn

Mostly lace weight

I dyed a couple 6 oz sport-weight skeins of the pink/gray combo (on the left), which proved to be popular, as there is only one left.  The others are 4 oz skeins of lace weight. 

Please check out my craft show schedule and come shop local and handmade!

Back to dyeing!

I’ve been waiting for the chance to do some dyeing with the new colors I got a while back and the white yarn I had processed at Rach-Al-Paca’s mill. 

Step 1:  Skein up a whole lot of yarn:

yarn skeins

Skeins to be dyed

Step 2:  Hang the wet yarn to drip until dyeing is done:

hanging yarn

Wet yarn

Even though it was rather windy, I managed to keep my dye-pots hot and the colors appeared like magic!

Step 3: After washing, rinsing and rinsing again with a little vinegar, the water is spun from the yarn in the wash machine and the yarn is hung to dry:

drying yarn

Side one

My little drying rack is loaded.

hanging yarn

Side two

 Both sides are full.

hanging yarn

And more

 And this pipe is holding more skeins.

hanging yarn

The last of the yarn

 The yarn on this pipe is the odd amounts for custom projects or to be knit into products.

Step 4:  After the yarn is dry, I re-skein it to make it look better:


Which is better?

Each pair of skeins above is the same color.  The one on the left has been re-wound into a neat skein with the multiple colors blended as they will look when knit into a project. I think they look better.  Do you?


Here’s half

 I have 28 new skeins of yarn for sale.  Those who visit during Farm Tour will have the first chance at this yarn! 


And the rest of the yarn

I have 2 and 3 of some of the color combos.  I even have a couple in camo and blaze for the knitters with hunters in their lives! 

I hope to see you all at Farm Tour – Sept 29 -30 – at our farm.