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Hand-Painting Roving - Ready, Set, Paint...

Hand-painting Roving - Gathering supplies and prepping roving

This was originally published in 2010, when Brianna ran The Yarn Side. (Wow, I took awful photos compared to now. Nice to see ways in which we grow, I guess. Ha!)

I had previously discussed the idea of documenting my painting/dyeing some yarn. The mood struck, however, when I was prepping to dye some roving to send to a friend who promised to spin it up for me. There will be three parts to this series, and hopefully, in the not so distant future, we will have photos of the yarn it's become!

To get us started, we'll need to prep the fiber and gather some supplies. First, I pull out 4 ounces of the fiber I want to work with. (Note: I receive my yarn in "bumps" so I take the time to measure out 4 ounces of fiber and place each section into a ziploc bag to protect it from the elements, beasts and stray animal hair.)

Hand-painting Roving - Part 1

Items shown above:

  • Water
  • Synthrapol
  • Fiber

Last night I wanted to dye up a 75/25 blend of Superwash Merino and Nylon, which is a perfect blend for spinning up sock yarn. I pulled out the bag of fiber, gently slipped the fiber out and set it aside. The next step was to fill a container with 2-ish gallons of warm water (it can be cold water, but my hands were cold so I made it warmmmmm), and then added a special ingredient--Syntrapol! Just a couple of drops will do. The purpose of Synthrapol is to help wet the fiber for better absorption of the dye.


The next step was to tie up the fiber. Doing this allows you to easily grasp the fiber without sticking your fingers right through the separated fibers when it's wet. What you may not know, but will learn fast, is that the fiber blooms a LOT, and when it blooms it separates quite a bit and can easily slip apart if you're not careful. So, how I tie it up is to fold the length of fiber in half, then add figure-8 ties to 4 different sections. While I do that, however, I do my best to untwist the fiber so that dye can penetrate more evenly. Once it's all done it'll look like the above and can be gently pushed into the water.

Setting that aside, you can get to gathering the rest of the supplies.


You're looking at:

  • 3-32oz squirt bottles
  • 3 sponge brushed if I need help in pushing the dye into the fiber
  • A pyrex/glass measuring thing
  • Measuring spoons (I like the metal ones because dye slips more easily off of them than plastic)
  • 3 containers of MX washfast dye
  • A chinese-takeout container that is holding my citric acid crystals (mild acid to help fix the color to the fiber)
  • Day-Glo Gloves so you can be seen from outerspace
  • Apron to protect your clothes (also doubles as modern art if you rub your gloves on them!)
  • Caffeine (my preferred choice is a good cup'a tea)
  • And, yes, an iPhone in an awesome Psych skin (purpose of iPhone is to entertain me via podcasts while I work)

Coming up next is getting down to the business of dyeing...

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