Friday, December 28, 2007


Dyeing Roving: A Cautionary Tale (or perhaps a tutorial)

The most important thing to remember when dyeing roving is that you have to have some roving to dye.

Here we have a great big bag of Corriedale.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

My friend The Knitting Linguist has come over to the dark (and spinny) side, and requested that I do her up right, as it were. She wanted some of "the good stuff" and requested blues and greens. I went over town the other day and bought an assload of roving and attempted to do what she wanted.

Herein is the tale of my efforts. Mark it well.

The second most important thing, when you are dyeing roving, is a big-assed glass of cheap merlot.

If you accidentally bought the expensive stuff, that's ok too, but you're going to have to drink a lot of it. It's required. I just hope your pocketbook can keep up with it.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

No matter what the time of day or night, a big-assed glass of merlot is mandatory. I think I poured this at about 9am but seeing my days are the same as your nights I'm excused. And even if I wasn't, I'm from Glasgow, we get hinky when we get too much blood in our alcohol stream. It's a matter of medical necessity.

I wouldn't do this sort of thing if I didn't have to.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

First, you take the great big wad of roving and you weigh it out. This is my digital scale. You will note that this lump is 45 grams. I sold her 4 oz of roving which is like 135 grams or something.

At this point I wondered if I was doing a new spinner any kind of favour selling her four ounces of roving, because it's really quite a lot. And then I thought "oh hell, she's paid for it, and it wasn't that much in the way of cash and I've spent it already, so that's what she gets."

I'm so considerate. Plus I already ate the food I bought with the money so a refund would be sort of ugly at this point.

So, I weighed it out and then I soaked it in water with vinegar in it.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

It got to hang out in the water with about a cup of vinegar in it for half an hour or so and then we prepared ... The Device.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Well, actually The Device is a bath towel with two lengths of plastic wrap laid over it. I used tape at the ends because I've had this stuff roll up on me before but really, that's about as high tech as it gets.

About this point it's time to pour another glass of cheap merlot.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

You then take the roving and gently squeeze out the water and lay the roving down in a sort of snaky way back and forth over the plastic wrap.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Line up the mason jars of prepared dyes beside the roving and consider your strategy.

Drink some more merlot.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Dilute the darkest blue dye quite a lot, and then spoon it over the roving in a few places. Put on plastic gloves so you don't dye your hands stupid colours, and moosh the dye through the roving.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Dilute the next dye, spoon it on, moosh it about.

I believe your glass of cheap-assed merlot is getting low.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Pour another one.

Drink it.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Smoosh the next colour all over the wool. By this time the roving may be bitching about the mistreatment. Tell it to shut up and take it like a ram.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Dilute the last colour, a photograph of which we seem to have not taken, then roll the entire thing up in the plastic wrap. Roll it like a sausage roll, sealing the sides as best you can, then curl it up like a cinnamon bun, stick it in a microwaveable dish, and bang it in the microwave for six minutes.

Then flip it over and do another six to eight minutes on the other side.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

If, at this point, you discover that you have dyed your hands blue and green, despite the gloves, take a picture and embarrass yourself on the internet.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

At this point, you should likely pour yourself another glass of merlot.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Then you take the casserole out of the microwave and floop the roving into the bath.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

Once it's cooled a bit, you can unwrap it.

And rinse it.

Originally uploaded by Rabbitch

And hang it on the shower rail.

And that's all she wrote.

I think it may be time for another big glass of cheap-assed merlot.

Don't you?

Have one for me!
Oooh.. Corriedale. I loves the corriedale. Its very pretty.. though after that much wine I'm sure I wouldn't be able to operate the microwave and would have passed out in the bowl of roving.
nice tutorial - only two questions - 1) does it have to be merlot, or will another cheapass wine work as well? and 2) is "floop" the technical term for that process? :)
hmmmm. with all that merlot, maybe some purple woulda been in order.

then again, leaves is green, grapes is blue-ish,
all that merlot's making me feel me-too-ish.

one of my new year's resolutions is to dye some 27-yer-old white worsted with easter egg dye.

Excellent tutorial, excellent roving ("take it like a ram", I love it), and y'know, I think they used to use wine lees for dyeing... Or something. Anyway, at least if you'd - oh horrors! - spilled, it wouldn't have mattered! But much better not to waste the wine.

And probably a good thing there was no purple, guys. She might've mistaken dye for wine, and even for a bleach-drinker, that could've been just a wee too much.
what a coincidence - I happen to have a glass of merlot in front of me, but I am not dyeing any roving.

(raises glass) have a happy happy great 2008, rabbitch! here's merlot in yer eye!

PS - my word is "hirertfu"..."fu"...felix unger, perhaps? hee hee!
I dyed my first roving with friends a couple of months ago - but there was no wine on site. I liked the results but wow - I'll bet cheap Merlot would have made it so much better! Silly me. Lesson learned.
Did I hear someone taking my name in vain? Oh, it's you! Well, seeing the results, I say, no refunds will be necessary (no, really, please no refunds; you can keep that digested food). Seriously, that roving is absolutely gorgeous (and so very my colors; maybe it's the celtic thing, or the merlot, but either way, you've got my number!), and you can't keep it, no matter how you beg. Bwahahaha! Um, forgive me. My acquisitive streak got the better of my; I shall try to contain myself (dry, little roving, *dry* dammit). :)
Sounds like fun, all except the dying roving part.
I think this is why I do rainbow dyeing...I just can't hold my cheap merlot like I used to!

That looks just lovely, BTW. Nice work!
Will a similar effect be reached if the merlot is replaced with a cheap assed pinot grigio, and the roving with pre-spun but as yet naked yarns?
Whew! Thank FSM you're here to give us all proper guidance. I might have tried that without the bevvie...who knows what disasters I might have encountered?

Off to see if my efficiency is improved by applying alcohol to the chores of laundry and dishes. Wish me luck!
That was one great drinking uh, dying tutorial. It would make for a good Dr. Soused book "Oh, the Drinks you can Drink!" genious.
I wish the merlot trick worked with learning to spin, too. Clearly Jocelyn is a faster learner than I. What was that loud clunk? Oh, what a surprise, it was the DROP spindle getting dropped again (and pounced upon by kittens, and pushed under the piano ...)
You make it so easy. I wanna run out right now and try it. But I know my hubby would kill me especially since we have company coming today. Oh yeah the alcohol does help alot.
The roving came out beautifully.

I usually have to save the cheap ass merlot for cleaning days, but I may have to give your method of dying a try.

Getting all likkered up would make anything easier. Especially dealing with all that damn blood running through the stream.
Excellent tutorial! I finally understand about the vinegar and the baking.

However, like some other commenters, if I drink that much merlot I'd be with the roving hanging over the bathtub.

BTW, didn't you know green and blue fingers are "in" this year.

charlizeen on yahooooooooooooooooo
"I think it may be time for another big glass of cheap-assed merlot.

Don't you?"

HIc. Yeah.
Fantastic! I love seeing different dyers process! Mine varies slightly...and includes blush wine.
I think my dyeing forays may have to include scotch instead of merlot, since I usually have the former in stock, but not the latter.

What kind of dye are you using? I have a bunch of laceweight yarn I need to dye, and some Cushings acid dye packets, & have been trying to figure out what method to use.
Merlot makes the world go around...and around...and around...
that looks like fun! but I shall resist. how about i drink the wine while you dye the wool?
I'm not very clever: but why do you weigh the roving? ~x~
You know what I think? I think you earned yourself a glass of not-quite-as-cheap merlot, missy. Lovely stuff.
OMG! I have that wine glass, in fact I'm knitting and drinking SUPER CHEAP ASS merlot out of it right now!!
Thanks for the dying tutorial. :-)
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