Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dyeing continues, with natural dyes

When I originally made the natural dyes from local plant material and put the output in the freezer, quite a few people asked me if it would work. Not knowing, I had to say, well, let's find out later.  

So here I took out two containers of red natural dye, from Japanese red maple and from red onionskins, and tried out my experiment. Two parts to the experiment, though, testing how my homespun yarn would take up dye, and testing whether the dye would still retain its nature after freezing.  The containers have been in the bottom of a chest freezer for about a year and a bit.

I think the answer to both is: yes, fine!

I took out the frozen chunks, and after resoaking the yarn which had dried on the doorknob nicely, figured why not add it in to the thawing dye, which I was bringing to the simmer, just as you do with yarn dyeing anyway.  

So I did that, and at the simmer, turned off the heat, and left the pot with yarn overnight.  This morning the first thing I thought of when I woke, after cursing the cats for shouting at me to get their breakfast, was to lift out the yarn and see how it had worked. 

And before anyone asks anxiously if those are cooking utensils, no, they are dyeing things, dedicated pots and spoons and tongs, and all that, strictly for dyeing and put away on a special shelf between uses.

And I now have a skein of a lovely soft peach pink yarn, hanging up to dry.  In the top picture you can see the original color soaking in that small container. I must measure it to see how many yards, before I figure out what I can use it for.  It might be enough for a phone purse.  

Next turmeric is out of the freezer and ready to see if that worked, or if it separated in any way.  This doesn't have to be a great big operation.  Easy to do a small amount at a time.  A bit like making jam, come to think of it:  you see large operations in books for both natural dyeing and for jam making, using huge quantities and making enough for the foreseeable future.  But you don't actually have to do this.  

This is a throwback to the days before freezers were common, so you had to use the output when you had it, from your garden or fields.  But we can freeze small quantities, and thaw and use for both dyeing and jam.  Different pots and pans...

And on the spinning front, I want to learn to spin on the fold -- this is the way you see people on videos spinning with what looks like a fistful of roving.  I've been spinning the other way, with a pre-separated, by me, length of roving crossing my hand and ready to feed to the spun thread.  Either way is fine, but it's good to know how to do both.



  2. I've been doing more experimental dyeing lately but haven't blogged about it - or lots of other thins - yet. Really short days we seem to be having, and morning comes early when you're living on Kitten Time. Which I wouldn't trade for anything :) (yawn)

  3. Please do blog about it when you have time. I'd love to compare notes. And I bet a lot of your readers would, too.


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