Friday, March 31, 2006

Smooshing my way to beautiful

I have been smooshing lately. It all started last Sunday, when I wanted an easy, fast, non messy way to dye small lots of roving different colors. Now I can dye yarn. I can dye it fast and in large quantities, but roving is a different story. I haven't quite figured out all the tricks to make that fast and fabulous, yet. I'm still battling those pesky places where it doesn't absorb as much dye as I'd like it to. And the fact that it puffs up while I paint it, despite a long time spent wetting it out. Then there's the perpetual problem of heating without overdoing it. Stovetop/pot dyeing is pretty much out of the picture because I'm too afraid of accidental simmering that felts my lovely wool.

Smooshing is the answer for small batches of dyed roving. Below I detail my smooshing technique. It's very technical & requires precision at every step.

glass/micro safe dish for dyeing (not food use!)
acid dyes or food coloring or icing dyes
vinegar or citric acid

1.) Wrap your roving into a ball approximately the size of your container. Wrap the tail around your ball a couple of times to secure it - you don't want it to open up in the water. I used my 2C. glass measure like this:

2.) Plop your ball of roving into some warm water & wet it out for an hour or so. I popped mine in the kitchen sink & ran after my kids to fill time.

3.)Fill your container 1/2 full of water. Add the amount of dye you like plus some acid. 2 T. vinegar did the trick for my 2 C. measure.

4.) Gently smoosh your fiber into the dye.

5.) Add more water to cover as needed.

6.) Smoosh your fiber a couple of times if you'd like a more uniform color, otherwise leave it alone. The wool will be darker on the bottom than at the top.

7.) Pop your container in the micro for 2 minutes on high. Let it rest at least 2 minutes before giving it another round. Don't let it boil or simmer! Continue until you get a good exhaust. 2-3 times should be sufficient.

8.)Dry and use. My balls were small enough that they dried rolled up. It is faster to unroll and drape the roving while drying.

9.) Spin your Smoosh dyed fibers!

You can see my Smoosh Dyed fibers in action on Rumple's bobbin below. I'll get better pictures once it's off the bobbin. It's progressing slowly because I'm knitting a gnome hat out of some commercial alpaca & a wool/mohair handspun at the moment. Here's a couple pictures of the original creation. It's my own pattern. Miss G & Myself modeling:

In other news, 95% of the Yarn Of The Month is in the mail! (Yesterday, in fact.) Go, me! The rest will go out today. It needed to dry a bit more.

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