Friday, June 15, 2007

Giving the wool a bath . . .

Yesterday was my first attempt at dyeing raw wool locks. I had bought a small half pound bag of Romney wool last weekend at the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival. The packaging said that they had been cleaned so I proceeded with the dyeing. The Cushing dye seemed to take well, but the wool still felt very greasy, and I just didn't know what to do.

I had to call in reinforcements: my fellow FAST members! After carefully wording my question, I posted to our Yahoo group forum for help. I, having never dyed raw wool fibers before, didn't know what was going on. With the help and instruction of many of my fellow fiber artists, I realized that the wool had not been properly cleaned (scoured) before I had dyed it. Although the raw wool had the appearance of being clean (it was very bright and white), it had apparently not been washed using soap; therefore, the lanolin, or grease, had remained in the wool. Eeeek, now what do I do? I had already dyed the wool as it was - grease and all!

Well, my FAST teammates suggested a variety of solutions. All of them had the same principle that I was going to have to soak the wool in some warm soapy water to remove the grease and other dirty residues. Some of my fellow members warned that I would probably lose some color as the lanolin also absorbed it during the dyeing process and would get washed away, but I was okay with that. I just wanted to salvage my wool and be able to felt with it.

After gathering all of FAST's great info, I decided to wash (scour) the wool which is what I should have done before dyeing it in the first place. I tried to be very careful not to agitate the wool while it was soaking or being put in and out of the wash bath. I certainly didn't want it to prematurely felt. After all, I like to felt, but on my own terms and hopefully not by accident!

Well, I think that the dyed wool locks turned out very nicely. They did lose a little bit of color, but I still like their hues. For now, they are laying out to dry. In several day, when I know it is fully dry, I'll try to card some of the wool. Then I hope to felt it into something nice.

I just want to say thanks to the following FAST members for coming to my rescue with your many years of experience: illusionyarns, castleman, tisjewelart, knitspin, cherylavenue, spinningmoonfarm, wooldancer, thepaintedtiger, and camanomade
I apologize if I have left out anyone. Thanks again for your great advice!


  1. looks beautiful! I esp. love the colors in the 2nd one.

  2. Shalana, these locks turned out beautifully. I followed your thread and is fun to see how the scouring worked. I've never worked with sheep wool before so this was quite educational for me.


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