For the past month or so I've been taking a Beginner Handspinning class offered by the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers. I'm enjoying it immensely. In preparation for the last class, I was supposed to spin two bobbins' worth of yarn on the loaner wheel. The loaner wheel was a lovely Louet S51. The problem was I couldn't get the hang of treadling at all. I mean I know how to treadle but not consistently. I would get going and then the wheel would change directions on me. Or it would rock back and forth like a Buccaneer ride at an amusement part. Or I'd think I got the right rhythm and I'd look at the bobbin and see corkscrew-y yarn barf tangled at the orfice. So the upshot is that I didn't have my homework for my latest spinning class. The dyeing class.
It was all good though, because my instructor, Pam, suggested I dye locks as an experiment. Pam had a HUGE (like contractor size) bag of mystery locks/fleece. There were two distinct kinds, a long-stapled curly white wool and a short-stapled crimpy brown wool. The white wool is definitely raw. It's a bit dirty, has a fair amount of vegetable matter, and a barnyard smell. The brown wool may have been scoured, as it doesn't smell like much of anything. It appears to have only a small amount of VM.
So for the dyeing experiment, I took a couple of handfuls of the raw locks and teased them. I picked out the VM and aligned the tips. Then I headed into the guild kitchen where Pam had some dyestock set up. I think there was a teal green, a mustard yellow, and blue set up. The class mixed a bright red dye and topped off Pam's stock of blue. We were using acid dyes but I don't remember the specific brand. I choose the yellow and red dyes to make fiery orange locks. I used the drizzle and smoosh method of application. Then I wrapped the locks in a couple layers of plastic wrap and put my wool package in a big steamer pot. We steamed the wool for approximately 15 minutes. Because the class was only two hours, the rinsing and drying were our homework activities.
When I got home, I was so excited I made a couple of mistakes. My rinses weren't the same temperature (d'oh!) and I let the water run directly on the locks (double d'oh!). Still the experiment was quite successful, despite the imperfect finish.