Home » The Basic Recipe for Wool

1. Clean the wool for mordanting and dyeing

  • Determine the dry weight of the fiber. This is WOF.
  • The yarn or fabric must be clean and degreased.
  • Soak the wool in a weak, warm solution of sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda or soda ash), or in a lye solution from plant ashes, at ph 9 to 9.5, for 30 minutes
  • Rinse well in warm water.

2. Mordanting with Symplocos

  • Weigh out an amount of Symplocos equal to half the weight of the fiber or 50% WOF.
  • Boil the Symplocos in soft water for 30 minutes, until the Symplocos sinks to the bottom of the pot.
  • You may filter this liquid, if you are using yarn. If you are mordanting cloth, it is not necessary to filter, since it is easy to remove the Symplocos particles from the cloth later, by rinsing.
  • Cool the liquid to 40ºC (104ºF).
  • Put the wet wool yarn or fabric into the liquid.
  • Heat very gently for an hour, to the simmering point, 95ºC (200ºF).
  • Rinse the wool in warm water. Be careful not to shock the wool with cold water, or it will felt. When rinsed, your fiber will be a pale shade of yellow. This yellow color tells you that the fiber has been successfully mordanted by the Symplocos. The yellow will disappear after dyeing and will not influence the final color.
  • At this point, you can dry and store the fiber for dyeing later, or you can proceed to dyeing the fiber.

3. Dyeing process

  • Now your fiber is ready to dye! All mordant dyes are usable with this process.
  • With dried dye materials use 100% WOF.
  • For most concentrated dye extracts use 10% WOF.
  • The exception is logwood extract, of which much less can be used: between 5% for dark shades and 1% for light shades.
  • Soak the dyestuff for 30 minutes in warm water at 30ºC (86ºF).
  • Add the fiber to the dye bath.
  • Raise the temperature slowly, over the course of 1 hour, to 90ºC (194ºF).
  • Maintain the temperature at 90ºC (194ºF) for another 1 hour in order to develop the color completely. Do not boil.
  • Let the fiber cool in the dye bath.
  • Rinse in warm water.

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