Dyeing it for myself

Dyed yarns dry in the sun
Dyed yarns dry in the sun

With no lambs on the ground and a serious case of spring fever in the air, yesterday I took off to Boulder Meadow Farm for a dyeing workshop.  Our host, Lisa, very kindly opened her house to a dozen fiber artists.  The day began with instruction from Melissa Johnson of Green Mountain Spinnery.  After our teacher demonstrated a few different techniques, we were off and running: soaking fibers, mixing colors, and microwaving our way to a rainbow of creative results.

I was intrigued after Melissa demonstrated making a “painted” skein of yarn with many different colors, but for my first experience in dyeing I decided to mess around with a couple of colors to see how I did with consistency.  Melissa had cautioned me that Navajo-Churro wool could be a little hesitant to absorb color.  After my first attempt at “grass green” turned out a little muted, she suggested adding more than the usual teaspoon of citric acid to the mix, to help the dye bond with the fiber.  Her suggestion worked and my second green skein came out more saturated and even.  I then moved on to creating a burnt orange color, which ended up a bit more variegated than my green yarn, but in a very pleasing way.  I didn’t make enough of either color to sell them, but these will make great samples at our booth for events coming up later in the year.  Now instead of just talking about over-dyeing gray yarn, I can show what the results look like, and I can also incorporate accents of color into a few knitted items that I want to make for display.

Though I couldn’t attend the second day of Lisa’s first “fiber weekend” I learned a lot and enjoyed meeting fellow shepherds and fiber enthusiasts, several of whom I hope to see again at this year’s Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival.  Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping my eye out for a free microwave that I can use exclusively for dyeing.

Published by Sarah Scully

Sarah is the owner/operator of Vermont Natural Sheepskins. She is an avid knitter and knitwear designer. She also enjoys cooking and gardening.