Larger quantity dyeing

I am dyeing then spinning 1800 yds of a 2 or 3-ply yarn for a friend. I am using roving I had processed from my own wool. The roving is in 4 oz bumps. I thought to dye first since I am not that great at dyeing and I’d like the color to come out the same over several dye vats - or close- then I will probably have to re-card it before spinning. Can anyone give me some hints on how to get each batch to come out close to the same color? I seem to be an ‘artistic’ dyer. One time I use a certain color and it’s beautiful, the next time I use that color it’s almost like an entirely different color. I use acid dyes. I soak the roving before I dye. I use white vinegar. I assume I need to use the same weight in roving with each batch, the same water and weigh the dye though my scale is probably not exact enough for smaller quantities of the dye. My roving is more like pin-roving in it’s thickness, which is why I’ll need to re-card it after dyeing. It seems to mat together ( not felt) and isn’t a smooth, easily drafted roving after I’ve soaked, dyed and dried it.

I’m just learning, but are you measuring? When I bake and cook the issue is that I’m not weighing ingredients… Weigh the dye for more precise amount, and then you should have more consistent batches. Same weight for same volume of water should work…

That’s what I hoped. I didn’t realize until just then that water amount mattered also. Sigh…so much to learn! I think I’ll have to get a more precise scale.

Timing is also Important. My big nesco cooker can handle about 12 oz of fiber at a time & more yarn.

Personally I prefer several similar colors all blended together (I do it on the drum carder since I dont have a picker). I use a sky blue, turquoise, & teal mix all the time. I love it. And I get more conpliments than any other color I do.

I really dont care for a rusty burgandy at all. But a bluish/purple maroon isnt what Im after either. So I do maroon, burgandy (less of it) and actually blend in some plain red.

Its more work, but I feel its worth it. (at least 2 cardings, usually 3, sometimes 4) I dye in the locks & prep as normal. If you are really doing large ammounts, the mills have picker/blenders that blend it so well you almost cant tell that the beautiful color you are looking at was blended of several dyebatches.

Oh I forgot, the quality of your water matters too. If you have hard water it affects things a lot. I use water from my dehumidifier b/c we have vety hard water here.

Thank you. I have hard water so I was thinking I’d just buy water at the store by the gallon. I’m hoping that water isn’t hard. And I really didn’t want to have to recard the roving. It just adds to the time for this project. She wants blue but isn’t sure what color of blue so I am thinking of dying bits and taking her samples. I could easily dye it 3-4 shades of blue with silver or black and blend it all together. It’s just a lot of dyeing, drying, carding, spinning.

My rovings seem to be a bit thinner, almost pencil roving so I might end up carding it over again anyway. I am not sure the thinner roving will still be roving after it’s dyed.

@Callielw : Hard water isn’t always bad; it depends on what dyestuff you’re using. Are you natural dyeing, or chemical/acid dyeing? In natural dyeing, hard water is frequently made ‘harder’ by adding calcium carbonate (chalk) or even soda ash. If you’re using commercial dyes, or something like cochineal, distilled water isn’t too bad a choice. I do it for our guild dye day when we’re using cochineal.

Hard water with natural dyes will brighten or even change the colors.

If you’re trying for sameness in color, then you need to find a reeeely big pot. I bought a couple for decent prices on eBay; they’re often used by those who are brewers. One is a 7 gallon, one is a 12 gallon. Huge, but it allows for one big batch of fiber or yarn. The fibers have to allow the bath to move freely around and through them - this is the most common mistake dyers make. Most guilds have dye days where everyone brings a batch of mini-skeins. This is fun for experimentation, but accomplishes nothing if you’re trying for uniformity for a project. Room, and gentle moving of the fiber is key. Of course, if you don’t intend to dye lots over time, maybe you can borrow a big pot…

You’re dyeing the unprocessed fiber? If you can put it loosely in a net or mesh bag, it helps keep the roving intact and unfelted, and if it’s loosely packed, the dye gets to all the fiber.

Good dyeing, and happy results!

Thanks for the help. I don’t think even MY friends would have a 12 gallon pot. I wonder how large my turkey fryer pan is? We have it as an emergency water heater and it’s never been used. (it’s been 15 years). My friend is now talking about a heathered or tweed yarn. I use acid dyes. I’m not after an exact color just that the yarn be even enough for my friend to knit a sweater with it. The wool has been processed into roving already. If I dye it before spinning, I am sure I will end up recarding since it is a thin roving rather than thick.

Heathered yarn would be easy enough. Luckily, she wants bulky yarn now too so that’s only 1000 yds.

What I really need to know is how much dye to use. I’ve been reading and studying so I’m sure I’ll get it eventually… So far, the friend hasn’t even chosen her color.

@Callielw Well, at least she’s not in a hurry! Thankfully most friends who see what you do understand. The turkey roaster sounds like it’s large enough, but I would not use it for drinking water emergencies if you use it to dye with. I don’t use acid dyes, so I can’t help you there - sorry. Are you familiar with Paula Burch’s site? LOTS of good info on dyeing. She explains the differences in dyes, and though I haven’t looked for it myself, I’ll bet the info on amounts is there.

Isn’t it great when someone wants something (bulky yarn) that makes it easy😁?

Successful searching, learning, and dyeing!

I’ll check that site!! Thanks for sharing it. I need to learn to be more exact in my dyeing anyway so I’ll work on measuring and making the dye solutions so I can repeat the color more exactly. I really need her to choose her color/s so I can get going.

I haven’t spun bulky yarn since those first few yarns I made so it will be a great exercise in learning all the way around. Thanks again for the link!