Monday, May 29, 2006

Twist on Wool2Dye4 SuperSock

In this recent shipment of Wool2Dye4 SuperSock, some of the skeins look quite curly. A few customers have written to me asking if this 'twist' will interfere with the dye process. The answer is that the extra curls go away once the yarn is soaked, and there is not actual twist added to the yarn.

One of the advantages we all love about sheep wool is that the fiber is a wonderful water repellant. It stands to reason, then, that in order to manipulate the fibers and to prepare them best to receive dye pigment, we must break through that natural repellant. The way to do this is a good long soak. Use warm, not hot, water and soak your yarn for several hours. This allows the fibers to relax and absorb water, and as the fibers begin to accept water through that lanolin barrier, they begin to 'bloom' and fluff up. Some people even soak it overnight; I usually soak for four hours minimum. I put in a batch in the morning, go about my business for the morning, and after lunch I settle down and get lost in the colors and the smell of wet wool.

If you receive one of these skeins from me, or from any source, all you have to do is put your hands into the skein and give it a little pop-pop outwards. You will see that these little curls straighten out. Once wet, dyed, and steamed, they go away entirely. But if you do not prepare your fibers well, if you rush through the soaking process, the little fiber barriers that are covered with lanolin will win over all your efforts.

I am always amazed at the difference between yarn wound on a cone, and that same yarn after the dye process. I'll attach a picture of Pony 2-ply which really bloomed after an all-day soak. Don't skimp on the soaking time, thinking that the chemicals of the dyes and the heat of the dyebath will get through the natural lanolin barrier on the fibers. The very best advice I can offer from my own experiments is to soak your yarn for four hours minimum.

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