Monday, October 10, 2016

Dyeing with Alkanet

This was a new venture for me, never having dyed with alkanet in the past. Based on my reading, it is a relatively weak dye plant, requiring ~75-100% weight of goods; this means that if for example, you want to dye 8 oz of fiber then you need 6-8 oz of the dried plant to start out. Another interesting challenge with alkanet is that the pigments are not water soluble; the sources I consulted recommended extracting it into alcohol. I started with 4 oz of alkanet, placed in a quart jar and soaked in denatured alcohol for 4 days prior to using it. I strained off the dye liquid using an old wire mesh strainer, and added it to the warm water in the dyepot. The two skeins below and the first and second dye baths respectively. The yarn is a 50/50 wool/mohair blend the was pre-mordanted with alum/cream of tartar. Time in the pot for both the first and second baths was ~ 30 minutes, and the skeins in the second bath were allowed to cool overnight in the pot and washed the next day.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Osage Orange with Multiple Mordants

April's group dye pot was Osage Orange. In this case I was using sawdust, contained in an old nylon stocking which soaked in the dye pot for 24 hours followed by heating to close to boiling for about an hour prior to yarn being added. Below are some small sample skeins showing the different effects possible with various pre-mordants.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dyeing with Madder

Madder is one of those dyes that is supposed to give red, but in my experience, not very often. After reading some books and watching a few videos, I learned that if chopped madder root is soaked, and the water discarded then it supposedly gives better reds because it removes more tannins that are concentrated in the bark of the root, and in addition, adding calcium carbonate (chalk) is also supposed to give better reds, especially if done after the madder has been chopped during heating. So I started with dried chopped madder root.
I soaked about 5 oz of madder root in water with no heating for 24 hours and poured off and kept the liquid. I did this twice and then chopped the madder in fresh water using an old blender. The chopped madder went into a stocking and then was brought slowly to boiling over a period of about 2 hours. I also used the soak water from before the madder was chopped to dye a skein of wool yarn that had been pre-mordanted with alum, which is on the far left in the picture below. The other skeins in order were pre-mordanted with alum, copper and iron. Ironically, the reddest skein is the one that was dyed in the soak water before the madder was chopped.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More Over-Dyeing - The Logwood Makeover

More skeins that are rather bright, and in some cases a little mottled from bleeding during rinsing from JB. These were re-mordanted with alum and then rinsed well.
When I brought them home there was indeed no washout of color when wetting them down for the dyepot. The dyepot is leftover logwood from the last dye day. This pot (started from 4 oz log wood) has already dyed almost 2 lbs of fiber. Since there was clearly life left in the pot, I added these skeins (about 1 lb total), plus a small one of my own to see what I would get with a white skein. Pre-wetted warmed skeins went into the pre-warmed dye bath and simmered low and slow for about 30 minutes and then cooled in the pot for about 3 hours. The results below are stunning. The rather bright colors are nicely muted and the mottled skeins are showing only slight variegation. My white skein came out a medium purple.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Over Dyeing in Logwood

Transformations can be so magical. Two shots below of a scarf pre- and post-overdyeing with logwood. Below that is gray-green produced by over-dyeing skein originally dyed with yellow onion with logwood. The rule of thumb I've developed over the years is that if you don't like the color, overdyeing in blue will make it better.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Over-dye in Reverse - Indigo & Yellow Onion

In the usual way of things, if you want green from natural dyes and are using indigo, typically you dye with the plant material that will give yellow followed by over-dyeing with indigo. The reason being that indigo tends to be a very strong dye and it is easier to control color and depth of shade by using multiple dips of indigo until you have the green you want. In this case the yarn had been dyed with indigo by a fiber friend who told me it was crocking badly and wondered if I could try dyeing it with the leftover yellow onion dye bath from one of my on farm dye days. Thinking this would be a fun experiment, I readily agreed. My first step was to wash out the excess indigo using synthrapol - it took a lot of rinsing, but eventually the rinse water was much lighter. I then gave the skein a bath in 20/80 white vinegar/water which yielded a clean rinse. The next step was to heat up the leftover dye bath and also add back in the fine mesh bag containing the onion (removing the bag of wet plant material and allowing it to dry prevents mold). The yarn was simmered for 30 minutes and allowed to cool down in the dye pot overnight prior to final rinsing. The two pictures below show before and after - definite darkish green with blues. The small skein in the lower second picture is one that I simmered after the indigo skein had been removed; the purpose was to see if I could still get yellow out of the dye pot, which clearly was the case. The great thing about this kind of experiment is that the yarn goes back to the original owner and I don't have yet another dye experiment skein for which I don't have a purpose.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Brazilwood Dyeing

This was the first time I've used Brazilwood in quite some time and certainly the first time with this much variation in preparation and handling the pot. First I soaked the Brazilwood sawdust (3 oz) overnight in a nylon stocking to contain the chips/sawdust; then I boiled it for 1 hour. Then I added pickling lime, i.e. calcium hydroxide (about 1/2 oz), plus a stick of ground up chalk to a pot of hot water, and then the dye liquor and bag of chips. The pH at this point was close to 9.0. A mix of fibers was added (mostly wool), some of which had been pre-mordanted with alum or copper. Then the bath sat for about a month prior to being acidified with citric acid; interestingly I had no problems with mold growing in the pot during the month it sat idle. I did take the precaution of removing the bag of Brazilwood chips and letting it dry out after we had finished with the first basic pot, and then put it back in the pot just prior to acidifying the pot. The pH just prior to acidifying the pot was about neutral and after the addition of citric acid (~2 oz) it went to about pH 5. Below is a picture of the resulting wool yarns. From left to right, it is alum and copper pre-mordant with basic 1st pot, then alum and copper pre-mordant in the acidified 2nd pot. The two things that are most striking to me are the range of color and that their is very little apparent difference between the alum and copper pre-mordant yarns.