Dyeing Wool “In the Grease”

Dyed wool - Salinas - Ecuador

Although I have written a previous post on dyeing raw wool “in the grease”, a picture is worth a thousand words.  And a video with toe-tapping music is an entire novel!

Enjoy this presentation on coloring your fibers to get that beautiful marbled appearance…

Learn to Hand-paint Wool Roving,

with another fun video and step-by-step instructions!

Roving To Dye For

In those quiet moments I manage to steal from the everyday hammering of life, I like to think about fiber – the whisper-soft, airy nothingness that waits with such possibilities.  Natural or dyed.  Worsted or woolen.  Knitted, woven, or crocheted.


A sheep at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival


I’ve experimented with other dyeing methods – kool-aid, sun dyeing, in the grease – but hand-painted roving with a steam set is my favorite.  Following are my hints on enjoying your own chosen colorways using clean wool roving:



Watch the video, or use the written instructions below…


Select the Roving:

Lighter colors will produce brighter dye finishes, while darker wool will yield more muted hues.


Prepare the Surface:

Cover the work surface with several layers of newspaper or flat cardboard. Spread 2 to 3 pieces of plastic wrap on top of the protected work surface. The roving will be placed on the plastic, and later, rolled inside it. A plastic section measuring 30” x 24” is sufficient to dye approximately 2 oz. of roving.


Prepare the Roving:

Lay out the roving in a continuous “snake”. Leave a couple of inches of plastic border on all sides. Wet the roving by spraying heavily with water. You want the roving to be damp, but not dripping. Wet roving will allow the dye to saturate into the fibers and “bleed” into one another more easily. *If you get the roving too wet, you can gently press the water out, but be careful not to agitate, or rub the fibers together, to prevent felting.


Add the Dye:

Prepare the dye according to the package directions. ( I use Cushing’s, but have also had success with Dylon .) It is easiest to administer the dye in plastic squeeze bottles – inexpensive varieties can be found at salon supply or craft stores. Spread the dye evenly across the coiled fibers, leaving some space between colors so they can seep together and blend. *You may want to anticipate how long you want the color variation to last, in relation to spinning. Short bursts of color will change quickly in the finished yarn.


Roll the Roving:

Fold the long sides of the plastic to the center of the roving, overlapping slightly. Begin rolling the roving from one end like a cinnamon roll, sealing the end edges. You can wrap an additional layer of plastic around the outside of the roll if necessary.


Ready to Set:

The dye should be sealed inside the plastic, and the roll will encourage the dyes to seep into all areas of the fiber. You are now ready to heat set the dye. Prepare a pot with an inch or two of water. Place a colander or wire rack inside to keep the fiber rolls above the water. Add vinegar or other setting agent according to dye directions. Bring to a boil and steady steam.


Ready, Set, Steam:

Place the fiber rolls in the steaming pot. It is acceptable to put differing colorways together to steam, as they are protected from cross-coloring by the plastic. Allow to steam for 20 minutes.


Dyed and Dried:

Unroll the fiber from its plastic wrapping. Rinse with water until it runs clear. Press out the excess water and lay the fiber flat to dry. You can also drape the fiber over a laundry drying rack or similar. Allow at least 24 hours to dry indoors. If drying outside, protect your fiber with screen or mesh. The wind and nesting birds can play havoc with your creation!


Dry At Last:

As the fiber dries, you may want to occasionally “fluff” it with your fingers to encourage air circulation. Lightly tease the fibers apart width-wise along the length of the roving. When the roving is completely dry, do a uniform fluffing of the entire roving to return it to its ready-to- spln appearance.


Ready to Spin:

The roving is ready to spin, but if you want to store it (or just like the look of plaited roving), you can braid it with a traditional 3-strand braid, or by crochet chain stitch-braiding with your fingers.




Dyeing for more?

Check out how to dye wool “in the grease” HERE.




30 Books – 30 Days

Bibliophiles love to talk about books, and what could be better than considering a different book for each day of the month!  Here are my personal picks…

     Day 1: Favorite Book:  The Importance of Being EarnestOscar Wilde’s wit never fails to lift my spirits and sharpen my mind.


  Day 2: Least Favorite Book:   Moby DickHerman Melville needed an honest friend to tell him to get a life…away from whales.


   Day 3: Book that makes you laugh out loud: Hamish MacBeth – M.C. Beaton’s 3rd in the series is a macabre chuckle from beginning to end.  One thought to take with you…death by lobster tank.

   Day 4: Book that makes you cry: The Lovely Bones – this story was so real it scared me.


   Day 5: Book you wish you could live in: Betsy-Tacy Series – These were my dearest friends as a child, and I loved their early 1900’s world.


    Day 6: Favorite young adult book: I don’t care what your personal opinion of Mr. Potter is, these book single-handedly got millions of kids reading – and that is something to celebrate.


   Day 7: Book that you can quote/recite: The Bible – The only book you ever really need – history, life lessons, wisdom, proverbs, and prophecy.


    Day 8: Book that scares you: The Handmaid’s Tale – A horrifying possibility


    Day 9: Book that makes you sick: Diary of Anne Frank – History I wish wasn’t real.


   Day 10: Book that changed your life: The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver‘s incredible novel got inside my core and changed the way I thought about how we are shaped by our pasts.


    Day 11: Book from your favorite author: Agatha Christie – anything she wrote is a joy to rediscover

    Day 12: Book that is most like your life: The Little House Books – the Midwest was still like this era for decades longer than other places, and we moved around as much as the Ingalls family did.

    Day 13: Book whose main character is most like you: Anne of Green Gables – Anne Shirley kept thinking something wonderful was just around the corner, and made the best of the present.  If I only had her amazing red hair…


    Day 14: Book whose main character you want to marry: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – I don’t have a character I would marry, but I think I’m already married to this spunky little bird that tries to get away with everything!


   Day 15: First “chapter book” you can remember reading as a child:  Jerry Goes Riding – I can’t remember if this was a chapter book, but it’s the earliest I can remember reading on my own – I think it was my older siblings’.


   Day 16: Longest book you’ve read: Gone With the Wind – may not be the longest I’ve read (remember the hateful Moby Dick?), but I’ve read it enough times to count as the longest.


    Day 17: Shortest book you’ve read: Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” – short, sweet, and timeless



    Day 18: Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like: Barbara Cartland’s Romances – I used to devour these as a teenager – my one and only foray into romance books.

    Day 19: Book that made you think:   The Alvin Maker Series– I wish more people were aware of this brilliant historical sci-fi series!  It’s amazing!

   Day 20: Book you’ve read the most number of times: The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to the Lord of the Rings series is probably my most-read book, aside from the trilogy itself.

    Day 21: Favorite picture book from childhood: Grimm’s Fairy Tales – I can’t remember having an actual picture book as a child, but we had a hardback copy of these stories that weren’t watered down for children, and were gorgeously illustrated.  I absorbed the art long before I could read along.


   Day 22: Book you plan to read next: Your Erroneous Zones – thanks Leann, you found another book to tell me what’s wrong with myself!


   Day 23: Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t actually finished): Les Miserables – I just didn’t feel the need to finish it, once I saw the Broadway production.


   Day 24: Book that contains your favorite scene: The Time Traveler’s Wife – full of favorite scenes – each chapter was a new surprise


   Day 25: Favorite book you read in school: Nancy Drew – I never got tired of these classic mysteries



   Day 26: Favorite nonfiction book: If You Want to Write – Brenda Ueland’s book is a never-ending source of inspiration and affirmation.



   Day 27: Favorite fiction book:   Alias Grace – Haunting, mystifying, and unforgettable



   Day 28: Last book you read: American Gods – I loved Neil Gaiman’s writing for TV, so I tried this modern classic.  I loved the story, but it’s a bit racy for recommendation.



   Day 29: Book you’re currently reading: Crystal Brave – B.K. Bradshaw’s young adult story of an earthquake at the Taum Sauk is a fast-moving read, and the basis for new writing projects for me!



Day 30: Book you want everyone to read, but can’t explain: Ender’s Game everyone should read this book, but it is impossible to tell people what it is about without giving it all away!


Well, that’s my 30 books in 30 days – what are yours?  Leave a comment and link to your own list so we can get more great ideas for books to read!