Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Re-Discovering Natural Dyeing Part II - Alkanet Root

For this particular dyepot I used dried alkanet root that I purchased commercially so long ago that I do not know the source, but it has to be at least 15 years old. I put about 6 oz of dried root in a mesh bag (old knee hi) and soaked it overnight. Next day I added the four skeins of yarn and simmered it for 2 hours. The accompanying photo shows from top to bottom - wool with copper, wool with alum, mohair with copper and mohair with alum. The bag with the dyestuff actually burst in the bath resulting in lots of vegetable matter in the yarn. It mostly came out with brushing and beating. According to my books alkanet root yields shades from soft gray-blues to gray greens under alkaline conditions and pinkish shades under acidic conditions depending on the mordant used.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Re-Discovering Natural Dyeing - Part I Mordanting

Several years ago, for reasons that I no longer remember, I had some white shetland and white mohair yarn spun up as singles. I also have no record or memory of the mill that did the spinning. A big box of this was one of those discoveries made during the move from Apex to Efland (now almost two years ago). Another discovery was all these natural dye materials that I did not even know that I had. It seems natural to bring the two together. As a first step, I pre-mordanted the yarn. I decided on aluminum and copper since I already had them - Copper sulfate at the rate of 2 oz/lb (2.6 lbs total for 5 skeins each wool and mohair) and potassium aluminum Sulfate at the rate of 3 oz/lb + 6 tablespoons cream of tartar (5 skeins each of wool and mohair). I dissolved the metal salts completely in warm water before filling the pot. The yarn was simmered (not boiled) in a huge pot outside for 1/2 hour and allowed to cool in the pot. The accompanying photo shows the yarn hanging to dry. The plan was to dye a total of four skeins in each of five different dye baths. This will give me a comparison of wool and mohair with two different mordants.