Thursday, February 28, 2008


I sorted through one of the big 15lb bags of mill ends, and I'm super happy with what I got. I thought it would be mostly little pieces, but I pulled out about 15 or so big 4 oz + solid pieces of top that I'm saving to dye up more self-striping yarns. I divided the rest up into 4 oz balls ready to dye for patchwork & novelty skeins. All the wool in the bags is my absolute favorite type of millend wool - really crimpy and crinkly looking until it's dyed, and then it spins up into a lovely lofty-soft yarn. Hurray! I can't wait to get started spinning it.

Yesterday I went to the thrift store with Jenny. Wednesday is half-off day, and it's usually crowded, but it was crazy yesterday. We got there about 10 minutes before the store opened on accident, and there was a LINE of people waiting. I wonder if it's always like that? I never went that early before. Anyway. After we were inside and started picking out clothes, we really had to keep an eye on our cart! At least two things were taken from our cart in the two seconds or so we weren't watching it. And Jenny actually confronted one lady who had pulled a skirt of hers from our cart and was modeling it for her friend. The lady just laughed and said she took it because no one was at our cart (we literally left the cart alone for maybe 30 seconds). Jenny told her she could keep the skirt. But it was weird. Especially since we had some personal belongings in the cart - like my purse/sidebag full of all my important stuff, our jackets, and my handspun & handknit hat. Jenny had a mohair sweater of hers that she took off and put in the cart because it was warm in the store, and a different lady grabbed it and started petting and talking about how nice it was. The people at that thrift store are often strange and in-your-face, but yesterday was the strangest yet!

We found a nice dyepot at the thrift store - I've been wanting one for ages! I left my last one at my mom's house in Milwaukee. Right now I dye in recycled glass jars for the most part, but we needed a pot for natural dyeing. We tried out some birch bark yesterday - according to miss Jenny Dean, the author of Wild Color, we should have been able to get a pale pink/purple. We actually got - off-white. Haha. It's a pretty off-white, though! A pale tan with a sort of peachy tone. Oh well. I have more promising naural dyestuff to work with: onion skins, burgundy henna, and turmeric. We also have some cherry bark that we gathered, but I'm skeptical about that one.

I meant to take pictures of the natural dye shenanigans yesterday, but I forgot. The story of my life!

P.S. Small shop update! I have a new patchwork yarn up:

bridges + balloons


atomhearteve said...

Hey Abbie!

I have had great luck with the following natural dyes... I took a class years ago and was AMAZED at the brilliance of the natural dyes we used.

They were:

1. Cochineal- Red (a beetle that grows on a cactus in Mexico)
2. Indigo- Blue (this is an organic process that is super AMAZING to witness irl, I think you would love playing with this)
3. Asage Orange- the bark of an orange tree.

All these plus mordants are available at Dharma Dyes online.

The deal with natural dyes is they will all take differently depending on which mordant you use.
THe osage orange dosen't need a mordant because of the tannins in the bark. I think we used soda ash as our mordant.

Some are really toxic, so you should research first.

There is my little natural dye
Hope you have fun!

I have a question for you... about dyeing.

Which dyes do you use? YOu said you use recycled glass bottles? I just ordered Jacquard Dyes and found some dye pots at the thrift store. Any tips?
I am going to dye up the fleeces from the auction.
I also have a Louet course cloth drum carder on its way.... whoo hoot!

Hope you are well and sorry for the long post.

xo eva

folktale fibers said...

Hey! Yep, I've been working/experimenting with natural dyes for a while...but I don't like using bought dyes/extracts, so I usually try to gather the materials sustainably myself. I don't even like using bought mordants, but until now I've been using alum a bit (although I just found out there's lead in it, so I might stop using that). I like making my own mordants too. I just haven't been all that successful with barks yet!

With acid dyes, right now I'm using mostly Jacquard dyes. I'm about to post about dyeing later on today, since I learned some new tricks yesterday, so check back!