Thursday, 29 October 2015

Can you over-dye black fleece or yarn?

I have spun loads of natural "black" yarn and just how black that yarn is depends on all sorts of factors including; breed of sheep, genetic strain of breed, amount of sunlight the fleece has been subjected to, general weathering and probably a whole host of other factors can contribute to just how black a black sheep is.

I was looking at all my skeins of handspun black yarn together and the variation in shade from chocolate brown to almost jet black and was wondering if it was possible to over-dye something this dark, having already had success with dyeing mixed coloured fleeces.  I asked around on various forums that I visit and, to be honest, not many people responded and out of those only one or two had even tried.  Hmmm, ok, its up to me to just give it a go then!

I took the two black skeins from Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.4 and the black skein from Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.6 to have a go at making them a little more interesting.

I started out overdyeing the No.6 black with Greener Shades dye in Amethyst Purple at 1% dye strength but this turned out to not be strong enough and so I dyed it again at the same level of dye, effectively making it a 2% dye strength, and whilst not perfectly even coloured, the result isn't too bad and you can see the difference between undyed and dyed in the top two photos.


I then took the Double Knit weight yarn from Fleece No.4 and over-dyed that with Greener Shades dye in River Blue at a dye strength of 2% and got an all over even toned shade.


Lastly, I took the Sport weight yarn from Fleece No.4 and over-dyed that using Greener Shades dye Ruby Red, again at a 2% dye strength, for a lovely dark red yarn.


So, yes, you can over-dye something that is dark in colour as long as you use a strong dark colour at a decent dye strength.  Its no good tickling it with a weak dye as you may as well throw that dye down the drain.  I think that it has made these yarns a lot more interesting and prettied them up.

Yes, yes, I know I messed up with this last photo as they're not in the same order, I'm only human.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Lincoln Longwool Lamb Part I - Maroon

I bought 1kg of Lincoln Longwool Lambs fleece in July 2014 from a guy in Sleaford, Lincs, who was selling quite a few of these fleece.

It arrived in "unusual" packaging, it was inside a cereal box which was wrapped in paper.  The packaging was dry on the outside but the fleece felt really damp and the locks felt heavy.  When it first arrived it was really filthy and after taking photographs of the fleece, I weighed it at 1kg and the put the fleece into a carrier bag and left it in our laundry room, leaving the bag open for the air to get to it and dry it out.  I weighed it again about 24 hours later and it had lost 100g in weight and smelt musty but was now quite dry, as you would expect it to have arrived.


I sorted through it and threw away 112g of rubbish and then washed it as soon as my hanging drier was available - it was summer and I take advantage of washing/drying/dyeing fleece whilst its dry and warm and so its almost in constant use.  I was left with 621g of clean fleece after washing and drying it.


This fleece was then stored for a while until, on 10th April 2015, I split the fleece into 3 equal parts and dyed each lot a different colour; maroon, deep violet and purple.

The first lot, I dyed using Colour Craft All In One Easyfix dye in Maroon.  I started out with 206g of fleece and after I had combed this I was left with about 150g of nests to be spun, a yield of almost 73%


This made a Light Fingering yarn, 140g/490m that has wonderful lustre.


There are two more lots of this fleece in other colours and I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Hillcrescent Farm Jacobs Fleece No.3

I am really getting through these Jacobs fleece this year.  This is Fleece No.3 from Hillcrescent Farm.

Sheared on 26th May 2013, this one weighed 1.05kg after I skirted it.  I think this is the photo of the correct sheep, its difficult trying to match fleece to sheep when you're not familiar with the animal.


After it was washed and dried I was left with 413g of black fleece and 230g of the mixed colours.  It wasn't worth trying to get white from this mostly coloured fleece.

The mixed colours

I decided to dye this fleece as I knew that the colour would take after dying another fleece.  I dyed this using Greener Shades dye in Ruby Red.  I dyed this back in March and finished making the yarn in April.


When I combed this the colours combined and it looked like a completely different colour.  Blending colours together really is like mixing paint.  I got 81g of combed top from the original 230g.


The finished yarn is Fingering Weight and is 79g/443m.  I've name this Rosewood.


The Black Fleece

I didn't take any photos but I got 194g of nests from my original 413g of washed fleece.

I tried dying this fleece black using the last of my all-in-one-dyes as this fleece had a lot of sun-bleached tips.  I spun up this Worsted weight yarn, which is 97g/287m.  As you can see, thanks to the dye its a bit darker than usual.


I also spun up this Fingering weight yarn, which is 96g/503m.


And that is another fleece completely done.