Once the wool has been washed, it’s time to dye it and spin it to make a yarn. This is done by our sub-contractor Südwolle that has factories in Germany and Romania.
Do green sheep exist?
Wool can differ in colour depending on the type of sheep from which it comes. Wool from Merino sheep is usually a little beige in colour, and even though this is a nice colour, many people want more colourful clothes. To achieve this the wool has to be dyed. The dyer we use is located in Germany. The wool is placed in cylinder-shaped dyeing baths, called vessels. In the centre of each vessel there is a container that can be lifted up, which is where the wool tops are placed. The wool is submerged into the vessel and a large lid is placed on top. High pressure is used to squeeze the wool together and then the dye is injected into the cylinder. To ensure the dye gets pushed into the entire wool fibre, the temperature is raised during the dyeing procedure from 20 degrees to around 100 degrees. At this point the scales on the wool open up so much that the dye can permeate the entire wool fibre.
Different recipes are used to obtain the right colour of the wool. The quantity of dye is weighed, and if the weight deviates more than 0.1% from the recipe, the scale reacts and the amount has to be remeasured until it’s right. Once the amount of dye is correct it gets mixed with water. It’s important that it is just right as wool cannot be re-dyed. When the wool has absorbed all the dye it is washed and dried so that it regains its fluffiness. First the wool is only washed with water and a normal mild soap. Washing takes place in the same vessel in which the wool was dyed to save both water and energy.
The water is cleaned before it is released.
Much of the lanolin oil that is naturally found in wool is separated from the wool during washing and dyeing. But wool becomes dry and brittle without grease, so it is softened again after the dyeing using a little grease. It’s a bit like using conditioner on your hair after a shower. The sewage water that remains after the dyeing process is collected in large containers and cleaned by the local waste-water treatment plant.
After the wool has been dyed it needs to be dried and combed out once again so that the fibres are parallel. Once the wool has been coloured, dried and combed it’s time to mix different colours to create the unique colours that the customer has ordered. For example, our Forest Green colour is a mixture of two green colours, a grey and a black colour. These mixtures are then sent to the spinning mill where the actual woollen yarn is produced.