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Monday, 22 July 2013

Fun With Fibre aka using food dye to make something like yarn!

At a recent meeting of my local stitch and bitch (http://limericksnb.wordpress.com/) Lou brought up an interesting prospect - a friend had gifted her two sheep's fleeces and she, being a novice spinner, didn't have a clue how to tackle it.  Now I'm not an expert, I've dyed prepared fleeces, carded and I'm a reasonable spinner so I suggested a trip to my house with the fleeces in tow, we would have a go and split the proceeds.
Meet Gina

 Gina is my fleece of unknown origin, this is her having a bath to remove some of the farmyard, but you know what they say you can take the girl out of the farmyard but it's a pain in the ass to take the farmyard out of the girl!

After cleaning we set about dying her, now I'd love to put up some picture of the various bits of Gina that ended up in the blue and green food dye but I entrusted my camera to my delightful 9 year old and let just say you'll have to use your imagination.

A Little Tutorial on how to dye natural fibre with food colouring:

  1. Place the fibre into a bowl of water and vinegar solution (20 - 25% cheap white vinegar, keep the balsamic for the salad lady)
  2. Leave to infuse for 30 minutes at least and then wring it out in a towel
  3. In another bowl mix your water with food dye, the depth of the colour will depend on how much dye you use
  4. Submerge your damp fibre in the water/dye mixture
  5. Using Professor Ping (the microwave) nuke on high for 5 minutes, leave it in the microwave for a further 5 minutes then remove
  6. Wearing gloves (most important, while the dye is not going to stain your hands forever it will make that first impression memorable at the job interview the next day for all the wrong reasons) take out a small amount of the fibre and squeeze gently over the bowl, if you're happy with the colour you can rinse now until the water runs clear, if not then repeat stages 5 and 6 when the water is cool
  7. Squeeze out the excess water gently and place in a towel and gently squeeze - remember friction = felt!
  8. Card, clean out the last bits of farmyard and enjoy for felting, spinning or just cuddle

We used blue food dye and Gina looks like this

purple - a bit like my Nana's blue rinse!

We also choose green and wow did we like the colour!
Isn't she pretty!

So we carded some for Lou to take home and I have custody of Gina, the remains of which are sitting in my bathtub awaiting further fun with fibre - I have yellow, red and violet food dye to experiment with!!!!!

What a lovely way to spend a July afternoon!

PS Why is Gina called Gina?

A lovely lady from the north of England was living nearish to me, we met at a drop spindle class, she decided to drop the spindle permanently but I did have the pleasure of teaching her to knit socks.  Given how much she loves yarn I keep encouraging her to have a go again but alas she uses her talents elsewhere including taking wonderful photographs of her trips to the seaside with her noble hound Buster!


  1. hiya!
    delighted to be able to read about the carding and dyeing adventure!
    hope to talk soon...

  2. We have plenty of Gina left, so you're welcome to join us for another day of fibre fun - I've also dyed some with red food dye and put it on facebook - Lou thought it looked like I'd taken a hammer to a watermelon!

    Enjoy your trip and see you when you get back