Friday, August 31, 2007

Crock Pot Dyeing
I have had a few folks ask me about dyeing alpaca. I have been using two methods, one in the oven and another in my "purchased just for dyeing" crockpot. Here goes with my crockpot method...feel free to contact me with any questions.
I assemble: 2 ounces alpaca roving, 1 1/2 cups white vinegar, boiling teakettle, a heated up crock pot, assorted large plastic and wooden spoons, and 3 colors of powdered acid dyes. I am finding that I like the Jacquard dyes best.
I think that two or three colors are the most that I can use with this process.
I add the stuff in three or four layers:
Layers: Circle dry roving around in the bottom of the heated crock pot, dot powdered dye with the end of a wooden spoon into the dry roving. I do this in an imaginary 3 piece pie pattern and always layer the same color above it into the triangle. Pour boiling water over the layer and GENTLY poke the fiber down. Add about 1/2 cup white vinegar on top of the water. Poke again. Continue layering all the roving, dyes, boiling water, and white vinegar.
Cover and simmer on high for 30 minutes (my crock pot won't boil in this amount of time, which is good, boiling is bad!) I don't worry about the water being completely clear.
Now, the hardest part, Don't Touch! Let it cool off on it's own. Remember, it's alpaca and doesn't want to be agitated.
After cooling, gently dump into a drainer and lower into enough rinses of matching water temperature until the water is clear. Don't get rough or let the water run onto it.
The last spin cycle on my washing machine doesn't add any water so works perfectly for spinning out my roving which I then lay out to dry, smiling all the way.
I am very pleased with the way the alpaca is turning out with this method. The oven way is basically the same thing using a large pan, dotting the dyes, pouring on vinegar and boiling water and baking for 1/2 hour at 200 degrees.
What I like about the crock pot is that it is very little mess and I can easily do one or two batches a day without it being a big deal.

This is how some roving turned out yesterday, not the stuff in the above picture. I put it next to some of Polaris's to see if the colors would work together. Yep! They sure do.

Spun Up Dyed Roving

The dyed roving spun up beautifully. I plied it with natural golden brown from Polaris, our soon to be herdsire. I ended up with 170 yards of a worsted weight, 2 ply alpaca yarn. I have an ounce left of this dyed fiber so I will spin it and ply with Polaris again for another skein. This yarn is listed in my Etsy shop.
Ta Duh! This yarn was way too interesting. I just had to knit up a little swatch (there's that dirty word again). I used US # 6 needles.