Since March, I have been combing the wool by hand with these deadly things. You can't really tell from the image, but those tines are razor fucking sharp, and I tore up all the fingers on my right hand while I combed. Much blood was spilled, luckily (or not) I did happen to have a handful of wool in my right hand - since I was combing it - thus, no clean up. The combs are also very small which severely limits how much wool you can comb at a time (about 2-4 locks)
A few weeks ago, I bought a pair of these carders from a dear woman living in good ol' Texas for $40 (a steal!). These babies have really sped things up, although, admittedly, processing wool by hand is a painful (in more ways than one) and SLOW process. I do love these carders, though, and in the past week I've carded the same amount of wool it took me about 1.5 months to comb with the death combs from Home Depot.
I got pretty antsy and impatient and decided that the best way to multitask while I was reading for my thesis (ie: half-ass procrastinate) was to experiment with dyeing wool with Kool Aid. I used this tutorial and this video to learn the "technique." I also experimented with mixing the colors and realized that a little goes a long way with Kool Aid.
Picture below. I used the microwave method for the two on the left, and the stove-top method for the two on the right. The colors are fairly accurate but a little too rich in the photo, but it's the best one I could get on my point-and-shoot.
From left to right, approximate color combos:
1. 1/2 pack Lemon lime, 1/2 pack blue raspberry, 2 packs lemonade
2. 2 packs black cherry, 1/2 grape
3. 2 packs berry blue, 1.5 packs lemon lime, 1/2 pack blue rasberry
4. 1.5 packs grape, 1.5 packs blue raspberry,
I didn't take notes on the exact ratios of colors/flavors (can I say flavors of wool, because I like that idea), and I have the memory of a goldfish. So...when I say approximate I mean it.
I'm kind of "eh" about all of these colors, particularly the one on the far right. I wanted a limey-er color for No. 1; a deeper, richer wine-y red for No. 2; No. 3's pretty close to what I wanted but it needs a tad more blue; and, although I kind of like that mottled effect on No. 4 - it's totally not what I wanted or expected. I wanted a deep rich purple-y-navy-ish color. I'm hoping if I blend No. 4 I might actually get what I want. The black cherry I used in No. 2 is obviously overpowering the grape, and I needed to use a bit more grape and maybe some berry blue. I should have used less blue/lime in No. 1, or just used 3 packets of the Lemon Lime to get what I wanted.
It's really hard to predict the colors because the ratio of water to Kool Aid doesn't matter, although the water does dilute the color a bit. Really, it's the ratio of Kool Aid/dye to wool that's important. I wasn't sure how much roving I should or could stuff in the jars. Also, Kool aid has a lot of pink/pink variations but not a lot of blue & green shades - kind of disappointing & limiting.
I'm going to experiment with Kool Aid Mixology more in the future. I DO like that the dye doesn't take evenly and I'm hoping this will create a nice heathered effect after the wool is spun & knit.
So, we've come to Pro v. Con, 2010:
Pros of Kool Aid dyeing: cheap, easy, fairly quick (especially if you use the microwave method), decent range of colors, space/energy efficient
Cons: makes kitchen/apartment/entire living space smell like artificial fruit scents; can't easily predict colors without long-term experience; wool may smell for a while afterward; Kool Aid lacks wide range of colors & mixing isn't very intuitive
Conclusion: I'm broke and mildly satisfied with this method, at least enough to want to continue to experiment. So, I will. And I'll post about it. And after I've done it a few times then I'll decide if it sucks balls or is really worth all the praise it gets on the internet.