I recently bought a little crock pot after years of not having one. I was having a great time making yogurt and bread in addition to the usual fare. Then tragedy struck. A tin can fell out of the overhead cupboard and chipped the edge of the crock pot liner that was drying in the drainboard. I was crushed. I tried to epoxy the piece back on, but wasn’t certain I wanted to eat out of it. So when I was told that another store had little crock pots on sale, off I went. I got an even better one for cooking and started using the repaired one for crafts. I hardened some polymer clay in it. It worked great for that. My latest experiment was dyeing wool.
How to Dye Wool in a Crock Pot
When I broke my new crock pot, I saved the old one for a simple and easy way to dye wool.
I took enough clean white wool to fit in the crock pot. I soaked it first so the wool was all wet. Then I put the wool in the sink while I prepared the dye bath. I used ProChem dye but you can use Rit, Cushings or most any dye that will work on protein fibers, even Kool-Aid or food coloring. Wool, silk, mohair and angora fibers, are all protein, as are any fiber that comes from animals. Cotton and other plant fibers are not protein and need a little different handling.
Making a Dye Bath
I filled the crock pot with water and added about 3 or 4 teaspoons of dye. My dye was starting to get sticky so it was hard to measure. I stirred it as well as I could and added the wool. I put on the lid and turned it on and let it sit.
Dyeing in Progress
I did poke it every so often to make sure all the wool got a good soaking. After a bit I remembered to add a glug of vinegar to help the dye soak into the fiber. After an hour our two, I realized that the water was clear and all the dye had been absorbed. The dyeing was done. I dumped all the wool into the sink to cool, not only so that I could handle it, but so it wouldn’t be felted by rinsing with cold water
Dry and Spin
If there had been color left in the dye bath, I could have let it cook longer or just turned it off and let it sit as long as overnight. Since the water was clear, there was no more dye in it, so I could just rinse and dry.
I spread the wet wool on a rack to dry. As it dries I will be spreading the fibers with my fingers to help it dry. Then it will be ready to card and spin.
It helps if the weather is hot and dry or you have a source of heat to dry wool. It can take several days to dry.
Dyed in the Wool
I’ve done many pans of dyeing over the years but this is definitely the easiest and neatest way I have ever dyed wool. It would be great for kids or anyone who only wants to do small amounts of wool at a time. You can dye wool, yarn, roving or batts. You can dye your own for doll hair, needle felting or spinning.