Monday, January 23, 2017

Botanical Dyes

Last summer I finally played with dyes from plant materials, something I have wanted to do for a long time. I bought an inexpensive ball of white wool yarn to experiment with. After looking at a few sites on the internet, I gathered up some plants, fruits and even beans that are shown to make dye colors. First I prepared the wool by scouring it which is just soaking it in soapy water and then rinsing. Then the yarn has to be soaked in a mordant. It can be alum, cream of tarter, or copper. I chose alum for the first round. I prepared the dye stuff by boiling and straining it and then in goes the wool. I wasn't very careful about measuring, but I did keep a record of what I got. Pretty colors! I especially liked the colors from the red raspberries and black beans.

Later I wanted to dye enough yarn to knit a hat. I used the black bean water again only this time I used cream of tarter for the mordant. Guess what? Instead of a pretty green I got this soft gray blue. Still very nice and it made a beautiful color for the ombre hat. I am definitely doing more of this next summer. I even got seeds for a few traditional dye plants such as woad and weld. They get a little more complicated to extract the dye, but I'm going to give it a try!