I’ve a very full Sunday planned, and an even busier week ahead, so I thought I’d pop in and share this week’s M3 video with you a little earlier. This one’s from Etsy, and it’s about natural dyeing.
As you know, I have not had much in the way of success with natural dyes. Unless you count flesh colored yarn a success, which I don’t. My last experience with natural dyeing was enough to put me off it for a good long while. After seeing the results of Felix’s gorgeous walnut-dyed sweater a few weeks ago, however, I was inspired to give it another go. Fortunately, I had onion skins on hand, which soon found their way into a simmering pot. After a hour or so on the stove I strained the liquid, poured it into my trusty Burco boiler, added un-mordanted yarn, and crossed my fingers.
I have mordants on hand – alum, as well as some of the more noxious heavy metals – but I read somewhere that dyeing in an aluminum pot works as well as alum. The Burco is lined with aluminum, so I decided to chuck everything in and hope for the best. As you can see, it was a good strategy. Natural colored yarn became soft orange-y yellow yarn. The color in the Crayola box called “bitter-sweet.” I love that color. And I achieved it in under an hour. Well, a year of saving onion skins, and an hour.
As luck would have it, I only had time to simmer the one batch before it started to rain. I had lots of dye stock solution left, so I drained the Burco and brought everything inside. I used my stainless steel jam pan. I know, I know. You’re not supposed to mix dyeing things with food things. Onion skins being non-toxic, I made an exception.
The second batch was a bit of a surprise. I decided to mordant with alum (also non-toxic) as I knew the stainless steel pan would not have the same effect as the trusty aluminum lined Burco. It was getting dark, and the light above the stove isn’t great, so I couldn’t really see how dark the wool was getting, or if it was the same color as the first few skeins, or lighter. I really didn’t know what to expect.
In the cold light of day the following morning, I discovered that I’d created an entirely different color with that second batch. Mordanting resulted in the gold you see at the bottom of these images.
It’s not a bad color, this gold. But I don’t like it as well as I do the color of the first batch. So today I’m heading into the woods with Tonia in search of bracken fiddle heads that, I’m reliably told, are an excellent source of yellowy green. The plan is to over dye the gold I don’t like, and throw some un-dyed yarn into the pot as well, and hopefully maybe get two greens. We’ll see.
As if turfing Tonia out of bed early and making her collect bracken before the day gets too hot isn’t enough joy for a Sunday morning, I’ll be taking my trusty AKG C1000 into the woods, to record the process. Yes, that does mean I’m working on a podcast. I’ll talk you soon.