Although I use colored wool as well, I really like to dye merino wool tops by myself. This allows me to obtain a variety of colors and create truly unique products. Watching the way the colors blend together gives me a lot of fun. Sometimes I feel like in a chemistry lab. To dye merino wool, I use acid dyes, which are perfect for protein fibers like silk, wool or mohair. I preserve dyes with vinegar, to make the colors long lasting. You should see the cashier’s face when I carry the entire pack of vinegar from the store! I can not even imagine, what she thinks about me.
So, how to dye merino wool? The process itself is not difficult, but it requires a bit of practice and patience. Dyed wool can dry up to several days, so you have to wait before you use it for your scarf or whatever you do. I start with placing about 150 grams (0.33 lb) of wool in a pot with warm water (you can take more or less wool depending on your pot capacity) and I put it on the fire to boil the water. In the meantime I prepare a solution of acid dye, warm water and vinegar in a jar. To find the right proportions, you need to read carefully the recipe given by your acid dye producer and then – when you become more experienced – modify them according to your needs.
Having the solution prepared, I add it to the pot and stir all the things together with a wooden spoon. It is important to mix them thoroughly, so that all the wool has been dyed. If you dye merino wool tops, you need to be careful about making them tangled and half-felted. After stirring I boil the wool for a few minutes and than keep the pot covered until it cools down. Than I dry the wool in a warm and shady place, so it is not exposed to a direct sunlight.
When you try to dye merino wool by yourself, you will know that the results are slightly different each time. But that is what makes dyeing worth to try! You never know exactly what you get and sometimes you get something marvellous.