If you only have tiny amounts of different coloured dyes left over
from previous projects, you can still dye rovings that spin up into
softly heathered variegated yarns using the drip dye technique.
You will need:
Wool roving. I used 22 micron merino
Premixed acid dyes (mix them according to the instructions that come
with your brand of dye). I used Ashford brand acid dyes.
Plastic wrap that can be heated in the microwave
Syringes, small squirt bottles or old teaspoons
Rubber gloves, apron etc to keep yourself clean :-)
1: First, soak your roving/sliver in water with a small amount of dish
washing detergent for at least half an hour.
2: Spin out the excess water and lay the roving down onto some
microwave proof sandwich wrap.
3: Squirt dye onto your damp roving using a syringe or squirt bottle.
The sample on the left is dyed with Ashford brown, teal, yellow,
purple and scarlet.
4: Wrap in plastic and press the air out as much as possible. This
will also encourage the dye to soak into your roving and run together
to create many subtle variations of colour
5: Set the dye by microwaving your yarn for 2 minutes, then leave for
2 minutes and repeat two or three times more (leaving it to cool down
completely after the final heating). Make sure that the plastic wrap
you have used is microwave safe before heating.
Check after each time you heat your yarn. If it has dried, don't heat
it again (and don't microwave yarns with a metallic thread or core!)
You can use a slit open oven bag instead of glad wrap and heat your
painted yarn/fibre in your oven for 1/2 an hour at 100 degrees
I separated my roving into strips and spun it quite finely, then plied
it with white to make a softly coloured fingering weight yarn
(approximately 17 WPI).
This image shows the same dye technique used on a small skein of hand spun yarn
and the dyed skein knit into a swatch. As you can see, drip dyeing a
spun skein of yarn makes a variegated yarn with very short lengths of
colour. This is a great way to make sure that you'll never have
problems with colour-pooling.