Z took a wool dying lesson today from Mo at the Cat and Crow in Mount Horeb. (They are such nice people!) Z took some notes and I took some notes, and basically, this is how you go from just sheared white wool to vibrant colors:
Materials (stores are all Wisconsin stores, but surely you have similar stores where you live):
1 pound white wool (from your sheep, alpaca, lama, rabbit or albino tarantula)
1 package extra wide plastic wrap (from Kavanaugh Restaurant Supply in Madison)
1 package food dye in your favorite colors (from Millers grocery store)
4 mesh bags (from World of Variety, laundry supply section)
1 or two 60 ml farm syringes (from Farm and Fleet)
1 bottle vinegar (from Millers)
1 bottle Dawn dishwashing detergent (from Millers)
1 pair Plastic gloves (from Millers)
You will need a clean table to work on, a place to air dry things (we use a fosball table), a microwave oven, and either a toploading clothes washer or a large sink for washing.
Time: 2-3 hours.
1. Wash the wool either in the sink or in the top loading washer, but do not use the regular wash cycle (agitating will felt the wool). Start by filling your tub with the hottest water you can from the tap. Fill washing machine (or sink). Add 1/3 cup Dawn. Soak 30 minutes. Spin it out. Rinse. Soak for another thirty minutes.
2. Mix your dye: vinegar, water, food coloring. Put it in your syringe.
3. Cover your table with plastic wrap. Spread some wool over the plastic wrap.
4. Squirt dye all over the wool.
5. Wrap it up in the plastic wrap, like you would a loaf of bread. Seal it.
6. If you have to use two layers of plastic wrap, poke to holes in the top.
7. Microwave 5 minutes or until juices run clear.
8. Cool in sink.
9. Take wool out of plastic wrap and put it into mesh bags.
10.. Spin it out in the washing machine. (You can do all if the colors at once in different mesh bags.)
11. Rinse in water the same temperature as the wool.
12. Spin again.
13. Take wool out of mesh bags and spread it out to dry on a fosball table or some other place safe from cats.
Once dry, you can card it and spin it or use it for a felting project!