Islenska

Dyeing wool and yarn

Even though the natural sheep colors in Iceland are wonderful, we sometimes want to get even more colors in our yarn. Icelandic wool is extremely suitable for different methods of dyeing threads and it is possible to dye both unspun wool and finished yarn.

Natural dyeing can be done with either herbs or animal products. Coloring with herbs is quite complicated but extremely enjoyable and a rewarding process. From picking the plants, preparing the wool and to letting it all grind together and create beautiful mysterious colors. Vegetable dyeing can be done on a regular stove, gas stove or open fire, in any kind of pot and it is not always certain how the final result will be.

Another method is "sun dyeing". Then everything is put in a jar that is stored in the sun for a while. Most of the most common plants that grow in Iceland give green or yellow tones; birch leaves, lupine, chervil, to name a few. Slow-growing lichen are extremely rare and valuable, give a radiant cognac color and have been used for plant dyeing since the Vikings dyed their clothes in ancient times. Today we use the lichen very sparingly and never pick except a little in each place so as not to destroy the species. To get pink and red tones, you need imported pigments from herbs or animals such as bedstraw root and cochineal. The rare blue color needs to be obtained from indigo, which is also imported.

Modern methods and dyes offer different possibilities for dyeing wool than before. Powder colors and chemical dyes are easy to use. Water is heated with vinegar (which gives the method the name "acid dye") and then the color is stirred in and the mixture is ready to take over the wool and give it bright and shiny colors that stay well. This method can be done either on a stove or in a microwave oven and countless color tones are available with this method.

Acid dyeing has opened the door to a new and creative dyeing method where the yarn is dyed in different colors and the yarn will either be smooth, striped or eroded out and darken alternately.