Yarn preparations for indigo dyeing

September 17, 2011

Skeins of wool yarn fresh from the cone.

The first step in preparing the yarn for dyeing is to wind it off the cones and into skeins.

Dear friends gifted me with a skein winder making this whole process much easier.  I divided the one pound cones into four skeins of roughly the same size.  This was purely guess factor on my part.  I could have gotten much closer to 1/4 pound skeins if I had set the cone on a scale.  Don’t forget to take into account the weight of the cardboard cone itself.

After consulting with a friend more experienced in dyeing in quantity than me, I subsequently  dividing the skeins again so each skein weighed roughly 2 ounces.  The idea is that lighter skeins are easier to dye because liquid can get around the threads and deposit dyes more easily.

Once the yarn was skeined, and the dye pot was ready, the next step is scouring the yarn.  Scouring consists of soaking the yarn in a soapy solution to remove any sizing or chemical residues on the fiber.  I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for scouring. You don’t want to use detergents as it is harsh and can damage the yarn.  I soaked the yarn overnight in a bucket of soapy water being careful not to agitate the wool which would cause it to felt.

You don’t use a mordant for indigo dyeing.  After scouring, I rinsed the fiber and immersed it in a bucket of clean water to keep the fibers saturated until I was ready to dye it.

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