Of my two scalawags, I would be hard pressed to say which one is more into working with wool. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t running home after school and plunging into it (the way I am, in a desperate attempt to get it all washed before summer hits!)
Each one has their own interest in the process: my youngest is most interested in the wool when it is wet. That is–he is intrigued by the washing of it and by the coloring of it. The eldest is more interested in the carding and spinning of it. This entirely fits their personalities, by the way. More about that another time–today, it is the little chemist who is taking us on an adventure.
My youngest, by way of introduction, is five years old and is an experimentalist. He likes to call himself a scientist (because his indulgent father prefers to call him a “scientist” rather than “that kid who takes everything apart”). His curiosity to “see what would happen if…” leads us to find, oh, I don’t know, a half liter of milk poured into the toilet to see if it would look like a “cloud”. (It doesn’t.)
Comparatively to his meteorological experiments, this project was actually quite simple: to see if we could dye wool with food coloring. Blue being his favorite color, he took a handful of wool and got started.
He was in charge of the selecting and washing of his wool:
Once the water was relatively clear, the real fun began.
I stood over his shoulder a bit to watch, but only got involved to add a few drops of vinegar to the mix. I don’t know if it was a good idea, but I know we used to use vinegar for dyeing Easter Eggs, so why not for dyeing wool, right?
I’d say that his patience held out for about 30 minutes, so whatever color we would end up with would be the result of a dye bath of 30 minutes.
We took the wool outside to dry in the sunshine.
Honestly, not bad for 30 minutes, a few drops of food coloring and a newly hatched Smurf!
I did the carding and spinning of the wool, seeing as though this aspect interests him far less than it does me. He did, however, spend a goodly amount of time pestering me to make something out of it for him.
There was hardly enough to make anything. He wanted me to make him a stuffed rabbit out of it, which was simply never going to happen. However, one night at bedtime, I sat up for a few extra minutes and knit him a little rose.
In the morning, he posed with his rose, and set it up for its glamour shot:
Knowing that this kid loves to experiment, I have been reading up on different natural ways to dye fiber. Apparently, avocado skins can make a lovely natural pink color (not what I would have expected, but, okay…), Queen Anne’s lace can make a very pretty green… I’m going to see if I can get my hands on some of these and let him play around with them…I mean, do science with them.
I’ve also found a few easy-seeming crafts that involve felting–wet felting, it is called, which is just the process of over-massaging wet wool until the fibers all stick together and get matted together…on purpose! Anything tactile that involves touching things seems right up his alley, so I am on the hunt for bubble wrap and other plasticky packing materials that can be recycled for use on this kind of craft.
Surely there will be more to come!