Prepping the Wool - Mordanting

According to what I’ve read, there are 2 proportions you could use. I might be doing things wrong because maybe there’s a way to have both recipes coincide, but mine didn’t.

Recipe 1

1 alum : 4 water

Recipe 2

5-20% weight of wool of alum in a bucket of water enough to cover all wool comfortably

I went with recipe 2 because the 1:4 ratio seemed like A LOT of alum, and I didn’t want to risk having the wool come out slimy (that apparently happens if you add too much alum). I took the smallest percentage of weight of alum, and then rounded it to the nearest 10. So I used 10g of alum, for about 98g of wool.

Here’s the math:

Weight of wool = 98g
7% of 98g = 6.86g
6.86g rounded to the nearest 10 = 10g

So it’s more than the minimum amount, but I figured as long as it’s under the 20% mark, I should be good. And it worked out okay!

Recipe aside, here’s what I did:

  1. Soak wool in cool water (no drastic temperature changes as it’ll shock the wool, which leads to felting), about 30 minutes at least
  2. Mix up mordant (in this case, alum + water). Make sure the water is not heated.
  3. Squeeze out water from wet wool (don’t wring, just squeeze), and place in cool mordant bath
  4. Heat very gently to just below boiling point
  5. Simmer for 1 hour
  6. Let cool slowly. I left mine overnight in the pot to cool
  7. Remove from mordant bath, squeezing out excess liquids. At this point, you can dry the wool for storage, or put it straight into dye baths. I let mine dry out for about 30 minutes because I needed to split them into tiny bundles. They were damp when I split them up. Just remember that wet wool goes into the dye bath more readily than dried wool.

If you found this useful, consider checking out the colours I got from this mordant, and the recipes I used! (Links below will be updated as they are posted)

Overview of colours + links to recipes
Adjusting pH
My dyeing process (Microwave dyeing!!)

try wonder blog mordanting wool process and recipe cover

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