Thursday, 4 April 2013

Apricot Smoothie - Romney Fleece & Dyeing with Food Colouring

Wanting to try another breed of sheep I purchased a small amount of Romney Fleece from Philippa of Kingston Manor Farm in Canterbury.  Her flock has won awards for their fleece.  I bought approx 500g of Romney wether fleece (a wether is a castrated male) that has 15cm long staples with good crimp and a soft handle.  Romney Sheep are part of the Longwool family.

Really, really nice fleece, very soft with lots of lustre, a little yellowed in places, but not too bad.

I washed the fleece first and when dried it weighed 500g, so she must have given me quite a bit more than 500g of fleece to begin with.  I got to work combing it and was left with 375g of lovely combed nests ready to spin but I noticed that some of them were "dark cream" so I decided that I would try dyeing it at the point.  I have been reading some interesting information about dyeing fleece and fibre so I thought I would start with food dyes as I am too scared to try proper full on acid dyes yet.

I went to the local Morrisons Supermarket and purchased some natural food dyes in a range of colours, they don't have a large range but red, blue, pink, green etc, the basics.  I chose pink for this wool and dyed it in two halves.  The dye pigment in the pink food colouring is Beetroot.

I soaked the wool in 1 litre of water containing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime I filled a heat resistant glass bowl about half full with warm water and added a splash of white vinegar and half a bottle of the food colouring.  I carefully lifted the wool out of its bath and gently squeezed most of the water out and then added it to the prepared bowl of dye.

The next bit is to cover the bowl and heat it in the microwave on full power for 6 minutes then you have to let it stand for 5 minuted and then heat again for a further 6 minutes and Ding!, it's done.  Remove the bowl from the microwave and leave it alone now to cool down.  Once it is cool you can remove the wool from its dye bath and squeeze out any excess fluid.  Rinse the wool in warm plain water until no dye bleeds from it.  Obviously I went through this process twice due to the amount that I was dyeing.  Leave it to dry.

I got lemons, oranges and coral pinks.  Reminds me of the sweets as a kid that were called "fruit salad".

I had to re-comb it all once it was dry as I had inadvertently felted some of it and I wanted to blend the colours.  I ended up with 336g which I spun as a sport-weight single yarn with 804m.

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