Monday, June 2, 2014

Dandelion dye

If you are eyeing my various posts and thinking that I seem to have the attention span of a crazed ferret on pixie stix, you're probably right. Yes, I really do dabble in about a thousand things at once, which really does mean you're going to see half done bits of things for months and months. At any given time, I probably have three or four knitting projects in various states of in progress or stalled, about as many embroidery/stitchery things and we won't even get started on the bin of lost and forgotten projects that I've been hauling around for years.

I've long been fascinated with the notion that one could take things found in the yard or around your kitchen and dye things with them. It helps that I don't dislike muted colours found in 70's appliances, as most of my natural dye work ends up falling into that palette. I read about it long before I ever got up the nerve to try it, and I remember rather distinctly the stench of boiling queen anne's lace to get uninspired yellow. Still, with a backyard full of dandelions, I figured I'd try again.

To the internet! I determined that I only need the blooms, and I'll need plenty. So a bucketful of blooms out of the backyard and I tossed half of them into a crockpot to simmer (the other half became 'experiments'.. likely to be abandoned).

Most natural dyes require a mordant (a metal salt to help the dye 'stick' to the fibre.. no vinegar is not a mordant. pH is also important in what colour you get but vinegar is not a mordant IMNSHO, at least until someone gives me a good arguement otherwise). So a couple balls of natural coloured wool got tossed in a pot with 10% alum (and some cream of tartar) to simmer for an hour.

Once mordanted (and dried, but not rinsed), the dye liquor got strained, put back in a crockpot with the wool to simmer a while. And then sit when I was too tired to cope. Eventually rinsed out and hung to dry. I simmered the blooms a second time (second extraction), tossed it into the not quite exhausted dyebath and then threw in a handful of fleece and a skein of pale blue cotton.

No mordant, no dye. Nada. Not even a bit. I didn't even take a picture. I did, however, throw in a mere 1g of alum right into the dye pot, and whammo. Dye take up. Woot!

The colours aren't quite right, they're a bit more yellow and less green in person (or at least to my eyes), but the order is undyed cotton, dyed cotton, undyed wool, dyed wool. I forgot to take a photo of the fleece. Whoops.

I think the next dye playing might be with coffee grounds. It's not like I dont have a few of those around. :)

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