Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hand Dyeing Fiber for Doll Hair

I got another special order for four colors of doll hair that I hand dye using Cotswold sheep curls or mohair curls from Angora goats. Here's a mini version of one of my processes including a few photos on  how I hand dyed one of the colors of blond for this special order of hand dyed Cotswold sheep curls.

First I soak my already washed and processed white sheep curls in a white vinegar and water solution in a tub in the sink until they are saturated.  This helps the dye to be colorfast.

Then I  heat up my dye pot with water, a little more white vinegar and whatever color of  fiber dye I'm going to use.  When it is nice and hot I add the sheep curls making sure they are covered with the dye solution.  I like to use a vegetable steamer to put the curls in when I'm dyeing small amounts because it makes it easy to lift them out and drain them before cooling them off.

After I take them out of the dye pot I cool them off for a bit before putting them through the final rinse to rinse off any excess dye.
Draining and Cooling off to Room Temperature

Continued Cooling Off Process

Final Rinse to Remove any Excess Dye

Once I have completed the final rinse I put them in my washing machine and spin the excess water out using only the spin cycle.  It is important not to agitate the fiber during the hand dyeing process or you may end up wit a blob of felted curls!

If it is nice weather outside, I dry the fiber on a net drying table I have set up outside.  If it is rainy or stormy weather outside then I use a Hamilton Beach electric sweater dryer that came from Bed bath and Beyond a couple of years ago.  It has four trays....perfect for drying these four colors!

 I usually start out with my lightest color to hand dye and continue to the darkest.  Here is a photo of the four colors I completed for this particular special order.  I also hand dye a wide variety of other colors for spinning and felting projects and create special sampler packages so people can experiment with lots of different fibers in smaller quantities.  I'll be getting out my dye pots to do a large variety of colors in a month or so after I purchase more fleeces from spring shearing.  Meanwhile, I carry white year around for making Santa Beards and other spinning and felting projects.

Hand Dyed Fiber for Doll Hair
These fibers can be purchased in my La Tea Da Designs Etsy Shop


  1. this is facinating Marti! Im afraid to dye old jeans so they look better. LOL

  2. It's a great idea to dye old jeans....they even sell over dyed jeans in the there are all kinds of creative uses for old jeans. I even have the inside lining of one of my knit handbags made out of cutting off the top of a pair of jeans and turning it inside out...sewing across the bottom...instant pockets for inside of a purse! I even use recycled jeans to add texture to some of my hand-spun yarn that I make!