One of the highlights of playgroup this winter was dying wool. We had been telling a story based on "Pelles New Suit" by Elsa Beskow, and dyed wool just as the little boy did in the story.
First take some white wool and wrap some lengths of it around the back of a chair. Tie it in a figure of 8 (this stops it tangling). I made each length around 20g.
Soak the wool overnight in a mix of vinegar and water (approx 1/2 cup vinegar to 2L water). Drain but do not rinse.
Then mix 10-12 drops of food colouring into 1/3 cup of water.
(apologies for the upside down photo - one of the joys of technology not doing as you want it to!)
Let the children spoon the dye all over the wool until it is covered. Blend colours on the wool to create secondary colours (remember too much will create murky browns, but this is all part of the experience sometimes).
Finally steam the wool over a pot of almost boiling water for around 15 minutes, then rinse in lukewarm water. Hang it to dry then roll into balls.
The colours did fade a little bit but are still lovely.
And what a sense of satisfaction to take those lovely coloured balls of wool and make something beautiful from them!
(This idea came from Living Crafts magazine Fall 2009)