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)
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)
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