Rhinebeck Fibers, Part II

(Alternate title: “How to Rescue a Poor Dye Job”)

In addition to the purple stuff shown earlier, Claudia brought me eleven ounces of a wool/mohair blend from a different vendor at Rhinebeck. It was a lovely green colorway with a “Forest Floor” sort of feel to it – various shades of green, with tiny bits of brown, yellow, and blue.

I started spinning the first ball of roving and found it was really hard to draft. (Grrr…) I spent some time teasing apart semi-felted fibers and predrafting, thinking this was going to be a long eleven ounces. However, I first began to suspect something was seriously wrong after I spun for a half hour and saw my hands beginning to turn GREEN.


I wrote to the kind folks on DyeHappy, and with their advice, I decided to finish spinning the yarn and then work on permanently setting the color. Despite the initial drafting difficulty, fibers in other parts smoothly slid past each other, and I had no difficulty spinning it. I spun all of it into approximately worsted weight singles and set up a citrate bath to fix the color, just as I had done earlier this week.

Here’s what the water looked like immediately after I put the yarn in the bath. (The water was just beginning to simmer at that point.) I had to use the flash for this picture, otherwise it wouldn’t come out at all. Honestly, the color was a lot darker in person.

Look at all of the unbound dye!

I cooked it for 45 minutes to exhaust the dyebath, and it cooled overnight.

Looks exhausted to me

When I pulled the yarn from the pot, I was astonished to see a lot of color in the water. It turned out to be very fine particles of teal silt-like stuff. I hadn’t seen it in the last ladle shot because I had sampled the bath above the yarn. I let it settle in the pot, then tilted it very quickly to take this picture.

People on Dyehappy thought it might be some kind of precipitate formed by a reaction between the dye and some mineral component in my tap water. They also suggested it could be dirt left after a poor scouring job that got dyed along with the fleece. In any case, I think that there was a lot of excess or unbound dye in the fiber, and the hot acidic bath definitely helped take care of that problem. Now I just had to get all of these weird particles out of the yarn, and it would be nothing but roses. It took 30 minutes of careful rinsing before the water ran clear.


The yarn dried, I reskeined it, and here you have it – 6 x 50 g skeins of 50/50 mohair/wool, worsted weight singles!

To my eye, the color saturation is not noticeably changed from the original roving. (I didn’t take any photos to compare it.) I’m also very pleased with how it turned out. Just as a final check, I took a few inches of the finished yarn, wet it in a cup of hot, soapy water, and blotted it on a white paper towel. Although the water in the cup took a faint blue tinge, I was happy to see no color transferred to the paper. Success!

I decided to chronicle every step of this spinning project because I hope it will be helpful to other people, should they run into the same situation. Was it worth the extra effort to save the yarn? Yes. But you won’t see me buying fiber from this vendor again.