As an amalgamation of everything I learnt from my original yarn dyeing adventures, I decided it was time to try hand-painting some roving. Apparently I decided to skip the hand-painted yarn step, or even a simple kettle dye of said roving. Nope, clearly that wasn’t enough for me, I had to go to the extreme of hand painting unspun wool. Truth be told I was a little uncomfortable throwing roving into a pot filled with water. I was also hindered by the fact that I wanted the roving to be three colors, so the kettle dyeing process would require three different pots on the stove with the three different colours I wanted. That was not particularly appealing, so obviously hand-painting was the way to go. I wanted the colour changes to be abrupt, I was going for as little mixing as possible between them.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. My biggest mistake was that I over saturated the fleece with the dye. I kept poking at the fleece and found so many white spots that I just continued to add more dye without realizing it wouldn’t be necessary until it was too late. Having such an overabundance of dye caused it to run all over the place when wrapping it up in the plastic wrap. The more I made my little “jelly roll” of fleece, the more ugly brown dye kept squirting out. Once I saw the brown I feared my entire roving was ruined by my colours mixing and I’d be left with an all around brown wool (not that there’s anything wrong with brown, I love it, just not in this case).
Finally, I had planned to steam it on the stove top since I really dislike the usual method of microwaving the jelly roll. Is it really safe to heat up plastic wrap in the microwave? I’m not so sure. Unfortunately, though, with the amount of dye dripping from it I figured I should just take the easy way out and nuke the sucker instead. I did two minutes on high, two minutes rest, and then another two minutes on high. Probably could have benefited from a little more cooking, but I was in such a panic over the mess of it all that I decided to end it there.
Once cooled enough to unroll, I freed the wool from the plastic wrap and gave it a good wash (lots of excess dye came out at this point and I’m sure there’s more excess dye that needed to be washed out, but things were getting tangled so I stopped). I was pleased to see that the roving wasn’t at all brown as I feared but instead it came out with lovely bright colours. The discarded plastic wrap was absolutely drenched in brown dye, so I’m really impressed that none of the roving was affected by that colouring!
I was going for some pretty solid primary colours (actually, going for a Captain Marvel look for all you comic book geeks out there) but that didn’t quite work out. Instead, as you can see, the blue and red came out much paler than I had hoped (the yellow looks great though!), and of course the dyes mixed in transition, making a more gradual change between the three main colours. It’s so far from what I had originally planned, yet I can’t be disappointed with it in the least bit. Turns out it was all a happy accident. My original plan will be put on the back burner until I can try it again. In the meantime, I have some lovely wool to spin up.