I have been trying out a couple of different methods to dye some sheets of merino prefelt (I'm sure the same method could be used for wool top but I can't see the point as you will loose the beautiful patterns when you come to use the fibre). This is the first (and I think the most successful and least messy) method:
- mix 1/4 cup of vinegar into each litre of warm water needed to cover your prefelt, add a drop of washing up liquid
- thoroughly soak your prefelt in the mix, gently squeezing the wool to ensure it is saturated, I left mine for 10 min before the next step. I know most people leave it soaking for a lot longer but I am too impatient!!
- cover the bottom of a large jar (canning jars are great for this) with just enough ice to cover the bottom
- sprinkle on your choice of acid-fast dye powder, I used a total of about half a teaspoon for each layer and 3 colours - black, blue and red
- gently squeeze most of the water from your prefelt but not all, it should still feel heavy with water, and drop into your jar
- cover with another layer of ice
- keep repeating steps 4 to 6 until the jar is nearly full or you have used all your felt
- finish with a layer of ice and more dye powder
- set aside overnight or until all the ice has melted
- to fix the dye it needs to be heated for 40-60 about minutes, as there is quite a lot of water in the jar from the ice, I put mine in a pan of gently simmering water for 90 min to ensure everything is heated for at least 40 min.
The colours are far more intense than I expected and I think that was largely due to using the black which becomes a deep purple at lower concentrations, sounds like the perfect excuse to have another go... ;o)