Every January our local SCA group hosts an evening of eating and dancing. To help pay for the site, we hold an auction. Usually the tables are piled with cast-off garb, feast gear, books, nicknacks, etc. We don’t generate a huge amount of money for those things. But one year there were several handmade items on the table, which helped to increase the money we made. For this year I suggested we do an artisans auction — all items donated must be made by hand and relevant to our group. My contribution is handspun yarn (surprise!). I have three skeins of Shetland. One is the natural fawn color and the other two constitute my first attempt at natural dyeing in many years.
I started with three pots on the stove. One had alum, one had copper, and one had madder root. While the madder was simmering, I mordanted the yarn along with some fiber. I put one skein of yarn and a braid of roving in with the madder. In the alum pot, I dumped some turmeric and brazilwood. Since there was extra space in the pot I tossed in an old dish towel. After removing the yarn, I dyed a piece of linen fabric. The copper pot got logwood extract and then later I threw in some tin. Nothing exploded and I didn’t pass out, so I think it was okay.
The yarn dyed the best, but what a mess! I rinsed the skeins so many times and still it seemed like the water wouldn’t run clear. And despite straining, I ended up with all these fine pieces of plant matter in the yarn. When I reskeined them, I ended up with a dust pile underneath the swift. But overall they turned out better than I had expected. And you cannot deny the power of natural light in photos!
Madder root, turmeric + brazilwood, logwood
Finished something else! A simple garter stitch shawl using:
It is the second time I’ve dyed with Queen Ann’s lace, yes? I don’t remember. I filled up my basket, collecting flowers from a field across the street. Good thing I did this a few days ago because they mowed it today! The flowers did sit in the basket and dry out. From what I read, it works better if they are fresh, but I already tried that.
The flowers simmered for a while, the locks soaked in alum for a while. Then they were combined and simmered for a long while. The end result: golden yellow. Different from the first time. But still yellow!
Oh, it’s wool dyed with Black-eyed Susans.
I am just not having any success with this natural plant dyeing business! My first two things came out yellow – one Queen Anne’s Lace and the other Eucalyptus. Now this! Arg. I soaked the crap out of those flowers, I guess there just weren’t enough of them. It’s annoying because the dye bath was a nice orange-y sort of color, then I put in the wool and suddenly it was this dull tan. Cheers. I can dye wool tan. I am awesome.
I hope it’s not dinner… No, they’re Black-eyed Susans being boiled for their natural dye pigments. I’ve been wanting to do more natural dyeing; I’ve got all the stuff. Wool, plants and dyestuffs, mordants. It’s a little scary for some reason, not sure why. I saw the buds for these in the backyard before Pennsic and decided to have my way with them when I got home. Today is the day. These will boil an hour, then sit for a day (or two), maybe boil more. Then the mordanted wool will be added in. I hope they don’t turn out yellow. I love yellow, but if everything that I dye turns out yellow, I’m not going to bother anymore.
In addition to the plant dyes, I also dyed some BFL with Lanaset dyes. I think it’s good that I’ve settled on one particular type of dye instead of changing all the time. It’s easier to remember which one was used. Lately I’ve been oven-dyeing more frequently than stove-top dyeing. It has a different feeling. Sometimes I like that I don’t have a very obvious style to my stuff. It makes it a little interesting. Although, sometimes I think it would be better if people could look at my stuff and know that I made it.