It took me a while to compile this post on some more of our natural dye experiments in France, but as you’ll see there were quite a few different colours to document here, and I’m grateful to Eddie for the pictures.
I had picked up a sample pack to experiment with natural dyes at Unravel, and it was the thing from which I was expecting the more varied results. The pack contained logwood, brazilwood, fustic, madder, goldenrod and chamomile. As it turns out, Eddie did most of the work on these, and we obtained quite a range of colours.
Dye stuff from the pack
The dye pack was a bit short, to say the least, on how to use the dye material. It just instructed to make a dye solution by simmering each of the dye stuff for an hour before introducing the yarn, and simmering the whole thing until the yarn was a satisfactory colour… this seemed a bit vague. There were a lot more instructions on how to use the different dye materials online but all in all we decide to make up our own version, and adopted the same protocol for all of them.
In order to make things easier for ourselves and not have to strain our dye solutions we decided to use the tights again, to create a kind of bag in which the dye stuff could move around freely like leaves in a teabag. We cut up the tights in manageable sections, placed some dye stuff in it and knotted off the ends to secure them.
The dye solution was then created by simmering our teabag in a potful of water until we reached a colour we liked, taking the tights out, replacing it with mordanted yarn. If the yarn was turning out too pale we would then return the tights to the dyepot with the yarn in, until we got a more saturated colour. Since the quantities of wool we were dyeing were very small (either 10g or 20g) we adjusted that to 10g of dye stuff except for logwood, which we reduced to 5g since it’s much stronger.
If we liked the colour we popped a second round of mordanted skeins in the exhaust bath. Once that had been done we decided to use as much of the dye stuff in the pot as possible, by dyeing some fleece which had been given to us at Crafty Coffee. It was unmordanted, so we decided to add a measure of Heuchera mordanting solution (20ml) straight into the dye pot before putting the fibre in and letting it simmer for a good half hour to an hour.
It was the first teabag we used and was a bit of a disappointment: we were expecting purpley blues and ended instead with some greys. Despite only taking 25% of Logwood to fibre ratio, the dye solution was much too strong. Because it was the first one we tried and we had a specific amount of mordanted skeins we didn’t give it another try… In the end, I’ve come to really like these colours, but since they were the first to come out of the dye pack pots, I have to say I was disappointed when I first saw them.
From left to right:
Left: logwood 1st bath, unmordanted wool
Centre: Logwood 1st bath, heuchera mordanted wool
Right: Logwood 1st bath, alum mordanted wool
From left to right:
Left: Brazilwood first bath on alum mordanted wool.
Centre: Brazilwood 2nd bath on alum mordant wool.
Right: Brazilwood 2nd bath on heuchera mordanted wool
Followed by some shocking pinks:
Left: Brazilwood and heuchera bath (3rd bath) on unmordanted yarn
Right: Brazilwood and heuchera bath (3rd bath) on alum mordanted yarn.
These last two were thrown in after we saw the colours which we’d obtained with the heuchera mordanted bath of brazilwood in which we’d thrown the unmordanted fleece:
We also threw in one of the logwood alum mordanted skeins since we had 3 alum mordanted ones which were all a very dark grey
Left: Brazilwood and heuchera bath (3rd bath) on alum mordanted yarn.
Right: alum mordanted yarn, logwood first bath, overdyed in Brazilwood and heuchera bath (3rd bath)
Right: Madder 1st bath, alum mordanted wool
Left: Logwood 1st bath, alum mordanted wool, overdyed in Madder and Heuchera (2nd) bath.
The fleece which we put into the Madder and Heuchera mixture also gave us a nice peachy colour
Fustic, Goldenrod and chamomile gave us very similar yellows:
Left: Fustic 1st bath, Alum mordanted wool.
Centre: Goldenrod 1st bath, Alum mordanted wool.
Right: Chamomile 1st bath, Alum mordanted wool.
After doing all these, I think next time I’d like to try some more overdyeing and thought all these yellows could probably be used in combination with the blues of the black beans to give us some nice greens…
Most of the photos in this post, and most of the dyeing work from the pack were Eddie’s, who very kindly lent the rights to her images for this post. While she was hard at work I was busy prepping for the dyes I’ll talk about in my next post: Ivy Berries and Young birch leaves, which gave us some lovely soft greens…