No, the above photo is not spaghetti with some weird tomato. That’s yarn in a pot of dye. Results coming up later in the post.
Ginni came over yesterday and we dyed yarn all afternoon. I wanted to try some natural dyes and she wanted to come along. I had never tried natural dyes before and was really curious to see what would work and what wouldn’t. I’d spent a lot of time looking on the internet, and also reading a book or two. I thought I had found flawless recipes and had all the needed ingredients. You just never know what will happen with naturals dyes, as we found out.
As you can see above, besides seeing Ginni, we had only 1 big pot and 1 smaller pot. We had to be really organized to try the 3 colors we wanted to try. To prepare for the day I had mordanted 4 skeins (they were all fingering weight, 100% wool) with alum and cream of tartar the day before. They would be used to dye with logwood and madder. My recipe book said that to dye yellow with black oak I didn’t need to mordant ahead of time. Ha.
We boiled up the logwood (held inside a cut off piece of stocking) and then cooked up 2 skeins of wool in it. We let it cook, just below the boil, for about an hour.
Second we tried the black oat. We did a 1-pot deal with the mordant and dye all in one pot. This was not successful at all. The yarn looked nice when we took it out, but it also all washed out afterwards. Pfffff. We should have mordanted ahead of time so that the dye would stick to the yarn, not to the mordant in the pot. Next time.
Then we cooked up some madder. Wow did that impress with the amount of dye solution produced and the resulting color! We dyed 2 skeins in madder and then with what was left of the bag of madder we poured in more water, some alum, and 2 more skeins of yarn. This one we let sit overnight hoping that would help the resulting orange to stay in the yarn.
Ginni got experimental with a few skeins and tried logwood exhaust overdyed with madder exhaust, which came out a lovely salmon color.
Here are the results:
2 skeins Logwood, pre mordant in alum and cream of tartar
2 skeins Madder, same mordant as above
2 skeins Madder, lower temp, no pre mordant, alum in the pot with the dye
1 skein Logwood exhaust overdyed with madder exhaust
1 skein Madder exhaust, no pre mordant
3 skeins Black Oak, which washed out, only the slightest change from undyed
I’m really happy with how this all came out, except for the yellow of course. The colors are muted and old world-y and lovely. Once I get them caked up I’ll post more photos. I already have plans for the purple, red and orange together. They’d make a lovely brioche vest.