Spiral Dyeing Fibre

This is my interpretation of spiral dyeing, there are probably other ways of achieving the same result ….

My aim is to produce some dyed fibre using just 5 colours using each colour once along the length of roving

Gather your equipment (all of which should be kept just for dyeing purposes)
Newspaper
Clingfilm
Steamer (I use a large pan and a vegetable steamer insert)

Soak the fibre in lukewarm water (adding a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar to aid absorbtion of dye and a tiny bit of washing up liquid to aid water absorbtion) for 10-20 minutes or until the fibre looks opaque
100g Fibre (I used Blue Faced Leicester)

5 Dyes
I am using Kemtex Easy Dyes here
Different dyes call for different amounts to get similar results

I added a rounded half teaspoon (an old medicine spoon works well here) of dye to a small amount of quite hot water and mix until dissolved. 
This mix was then poured into a plastic bottle with a squirty end, topping up to almost the top with cold water.  
Repeat for each of the four other dyes.

Cover your workspace with the newspaper and lay a long length of cling film on top
Squeeze most of the water out of the fibre
Zigzag the fibre into 5 portions, you may need to fiddle with it a bit to get it sort of equal
Lay the first length on the cling film, moving the remainder to the back of the work surface  (note that I am working from left to right, I am left handed so you may work from the right side if you are right handed)
Take your first squirty bottle of dye and squirt along the first length of the roving, 
I used only about a quarter of the dye in the bottle

Fold in the end of the clingfilm and bring the back of the clingfilm over the fibre and the front of the cling film over the top, completely enclosing the dye and fibre.  This is where you start squidging gently. Make sure the fibre is completely covered in the dye, roll the sausage to check underneath.
Leave the last dyed bit of fibre loosely wrapped as you are going to add some more cling film and need somewhere to stick it to.

Roll up the first section, almost completely and slide it to the left
Add another length of clingfilm by lifting the sausage up and overlapping it by about 15cm
Move the next section of roving onto the new piece of clingfilm and using the second colour, squirt along the length, bring the back film over the roving and the front film over the top and squidge, making sure there is no fibre without dye.  

Blend the two colours together well where they join. Roll up this section and continue doing the same for the rest of the fibre and dyes

make sure the roving is well enclosed, adding more clingfilm if necessary to stop leakage

Place the vegetable steamer into the pan and add enough water to stay just under the steamer, bring to boil and remove from heat while you add the fibre spiral sausage, cover with a lid, bring back to the boil, turn the heat right down and steam very gently for about 30 mins

The spiral will probably balloon up during the steaming

Turn off the heat and leave the spiral to cool, before tipping into your sink.  My veg steamer has little handles so I lift it out when it has cooled a little to speed up the cooling down process
Unwrap and gently rinse in lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Do not run the water directly onto the fibre or it will felt
Squeeze out as much water as you can and either put in a lingerie bag and do a quick gentle wool spin or roll a towel to remove the excess

Let the fibre dry, outside if the weather will let you

I love the separate colours

and the way they blend into one another

I will definitely be dyeing more of this fibre for my shop
This fibre will make beautiful softly spun singles
It will spin up into self striping yarn if you divide the roving into 2 or 4 pieces and after spinning the singles, you can either Navajo ply or 2 ply two singles together
You could also spin the single from alternating ends before plying to get a different effect
I hope this tutorial makes sense, if you notice any mistakes or have any questions just leave a comment or PM me on Ravelry and I’ll do my best to sort it
Happy Spinning!
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About picperfic

I dye luxurious fibre blends for spinners and felters, and sew beautiful bags, project bags and needle/hook organisers to a very high standard, using designer fabrics and then I photograph them!
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17 Responses to Spiral Dyeing Fibre

  1. ambermoggie says:

    pretty and a great tutorial:)

  2. Faerynuff says:

    Do I need another hobby? Do I? Shall I?Or should I learn to spin first? I have been hinting at a spinning wheel to Jez for my birthday, we’ll see!That fibre looks so beautiful, have you spun any?

  3. tiennie says:

    How fun! Thanks for the tutorial!

  4. sue says:

    What a fantastic tutorial. It even makes me feel like dyeing some up too, how much fun.

  5. Kari Gibson says:

    Great technique and not disimilar to how I do space dyeing, except you get nice large areas of pure colour. Thanks for the brilliant tutorial, I will have to try that!

  6. Monika says:

    I’ve done dyeing like that and I liked it too. You are getting really good at it!!!

  7. BobbinD says:

    Thank you soooo much for this, I love the results! 😀

  8. angela says:

    If I ever have enough free time for dyeing (when the little one is older) I’m going to try this. Excellent results. Right now I’ll just look forward to buying some. Yum.

  9. Thimbleanna says:

    VERY interesting Marianne! I’m surprised that the steam doesn’t melt the clingfilm. And reading along, I was wondering how you would spin without doing all of each color at a time, and then you answered my question at the end. So fun and the pictures are all beautiful — thanks for posting!

  10. Janice says:

    Makes sense now. Brilliant tutorial 😀 Will have fun trying this method, next.

  11. CG says:

    Very clever and lovely result.

  12. yogicknitter says:

    Those colours are just to die for Marianne. They really are beautiful. I must have another go at dyeing fibre again myself after my last not so quite right efforts.

  13. Lin says:

    Great tutorial, its good to see the process involved. DO NOT let me do another hobby though!

  14. BabyLongLegs says:

    Fantastic tutorial, Marianne :)And superb results…..!!!I shall try this myself….you’ve inspired me!S xXx

  15. silverpebble says:

    This is a wonderful post Marianne -fascinating stuff -like a colourful Cumbrian sausage. Fab!

  16. This was a very interesting post! Makes me want to try this myself! 🙂

  17. Craftlover says:

    Great instruction.. I love it, I was about to find “HOW TO DYE roving” … and just saw yours. 😀 great!! 🙂 can’t wait to buy some undye wool and try! 🙂

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