Help with immersion dyeing wool roving
  • I have used immersion, painting and steaming with acid dyes on wool roving. I'm diligent about following instructions, soaks, slowly raising heat, cooling down, tepid rinses, little handling, but the wool always ends up being almost felted. The strands are curly rather than straight like the commercial roving you buy. Is this expected? Is there something I can do to change the end result? I was told that it could be because commercial fibers are dyed before being combed. Is this true? I'm frustrated.
    Thanks. Any advice would be appreciated.
  • I apologize for the delay in responding to your questions. Unfortunately, I personally have little experience dyeing wool roving. I have been trying to find someone with extensive experience in this area to address your question. I believe you will be best served by someone who has first hand experience dyeing wool roving with acid dyes. I have not forgotten about you! I understand how frustrating this kind of thing can be, and I want to be sure to get you credible information. So please hang tight! I will find someone who can help you!
  • Thanks Asher. I appreciate your tenacity.
  • Hi. I am having the same problem. Does anyone have any recommendations for the best way to dye merino roving without it partially felting. I can't quite get it! I need the fibres to stay soft and easy to separate. I am a felter so this is critical to me. I have seen beautifully hand dyed merino...can anyone help? :-)
  • Hi Shelley,

    I also have no experience dyeing roving so cannot speak to it personally. If you are, as is Mysterymar, careful about all the steps, then it will take more experience than I have to speak to this problem. However, there are a couple of amazing dyers out there that may be able to give you some advice. One person that comes to mind is Sayra Adams. I don't have and email address for her but you could probably reach her through her Etsy page here: I also found this blog that talks about dyeing roving - with a couple of failed attempts and finally success.

    hope this helps
  • Hi Shelley,

    I have tried various methods using acid and procion dyes with roving since I posted my question last October. I even took a class and those results were not what I expected especially if you intend as we do to use the roving for felting. Of course, acid dyes are better for wool. Have you tried painting the roving on saran wrap then sealing and steaming? Jacquard has instructions online for this as well as Dharma Trading. I expect it takes time and experimentation to get professional results with roving. Someone had suggested tome that the ph of my water may be affecting the outcome, but I tested my water and it was ph neutral otherwise I would have experimented with changing the ph. Are you using a vinegar soak first? I prefer the vinegar to soda ash, but opinion varies. It is very confusing when you start reading all the instructions available for dye methods. I can't say I've found the perfect one, but am still trying. Another thing to check is the color fastness of the end product. There is nothing worst than using the wool only to felt a nice scarf and have the colors leak. Sometimes its not all bad, but it can be disastrous to end up with brown splotches where you don't want them. Good luck. I even tried "unfelting" the wool by re-cooking it and carding it but none of the results were desirable. I'll be interested in hearing about your progress. Good luck.