Dyeing yarn and keeping the lanolin content

Hi all,
I just spun some wool from Arcott cross sheep here in Canada. I just skirted it, washed it with dawn dish soap and rinsed it a few times, and combed it. Now I’ve got it spun in a 3-ply woolen and I want to dye it with my acid dyes. I usually raise the temperature to 190F when I’m dying to make sure it sets. Is there any way to make sure I don’t lose all the lanoline content from the wool. Such as leaving the yarn in the water till it cools back down? What did people used to do, or did they just use wool that was already the color they wanted? Thanks, Hope

Maybe @mullerslanefarm
@Shintoga or
can offer some advice.

I’d love to help, I’ve not dyed yarn myself though. I hope you find the answers you’re looking for, it sounds like an interesting process! I do think, when it comes to natural colours, people probably would have used the closest undyed shades from a fleece (or flock). I’ve definitely seen very dark undyed wool yarns being sold on other sites.

1 Like

Hi @HopeK, that’s a quandary since the melting point of lanolin is 100F-105F. At dyeing temperatures, the lanolin will melt and rise to the surface of the water. Allowing the dye water to cool might distribute some of the lanolin back on the yarn but it will be hit or miss.

Since lanolin is waxy, the dye won’t strike the yarn evenly where there is a lot of lanolin.

I’ve only used greasy yarn in its natural colors.

Sorry I couldn’t help more.


I have zero experience with this, but I found the following on this site

FWIW. The name of the site, earth tones, might just give you a clue about what the expected results are.

“On greasy wool, some of the dye will couple with the wool grease and this grease/dye mixture will wash off, giving some colour to the rinsing water – continue rinsing until no other colour comes off.
The beauty of using this method of dyeing greasy wools is that some of the grease is retained by the fibre, thus enhancing the spinning characteristics.”

My dying was always done on wool that I had washed as well as I possibly could.