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! 

3 comments:

Helen Philipps said...

Fascinating! The colours you dyed from plants look pretty, Cindy. Love the little hat you knitted, and the glimpses of pretty quilting too. Wonderful snowy picture at the top there :)
Helen xox

Beatrice Euphemie said...

Oh, how pretty! I love the colors you dyed and the hat turned out so beautiful. I've always wanted to try dying with plants - I have tons of blackberries here! I never knew you could use cream of tartar as a mordant. Maybe someday I will try this. I will be interested to see your woad and weld plants and the results you get! Lovely, snowy scene on your banner. Hugs xo Karen

Carol said...

That is so interesting, Cindy!! And I love how your hat turned out with the self-dyed yarn. Really lovely :)