Sunday, January 11, 2015

Before and After

I like to dye variegated coloured fleeces for hand spinning (it's actually much easier to dye after spinning, which is what I did here). The natural variegation in the fleece (including the weathered tips) absorbs the dye differently, with the lighter colours in the fleece becoming much brighter than the darks, resulting in an interestingly variegated yarn with an often subtle hue - as if the fibre were stained rather than dyed. Naturally coloured fleeces dyed this way suggest what sheep might look like if they came in colours other than various shades of white, grey, brown and black.

This particular grey variegated Romney fleece turned out to be more than a little blah after washing and spinning. Below she holds approx 968 metres of spun Romney for her next winter jersey. I intended dying it anyway, but given how little variegation there was in the resulting spun yarn I may as well have got it machine washed and carded instead of doing it all myself.


And after

I was very surprised at how difficult it was to get this fibre to uptake dye. The commercial yarn I used to tie the skeins dyed very well and are absolutely saturated with colour, and is no doubt superwash treated, which always enables dye penetration. Still, I cooked this stuff for almost two hours and the resulting colour is more of a stain than a deeply saturated dye colour - which is quite nice nonetheless, like a naturally blue sheep might look, wandering about the hills.

The dyed colour is hard to capture, somewhere between these two blues - a light charcoal-navy, with a slight variegation in colour as the lighter shades in the fleece dyed a brighter shade of blue. At least it will be robust and snuggly warm ... and a unique colour. I'm thinking Blank Canvas, and a bit of FairIsle, for interest.

Finally, some summertime warmth for the frozen Northerners out there. Yesterday's lunchtime view from the Crater Rim of Banks Peninsula. Having a blast on Instagram (which I might admit suits me better than blogging)


  1. Interesting. I see more purple than blue, but it could just be my monitor. Nonetheless, it’ll knit up into a beautiful garment. Thank you for the bottom-most photo. It’s good to know that it’s high summer somewhere.

  2. Thanks! It is indeed an odd indigo colour.
    Temperatures that day reached 28 C. We don't like 28, but we try not to complain. ;)