Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Natural dye results!

madder dyebath

The naturally dyed yarns turned out better than I'd hoped! I'm especially relieved about the indigo, since it was my first time making an indigo vat, but it was actually not as hard as I thought it would be. The whole process of dyeing these yarns was pretty involved, here's a brief walkthrough of the steps to give you an idea:

1. Make mordant solution. This either involves simmering plant material for 1-2 hours before straining it out, or bringing a pot of water to a boil & adding alum.
2. Mordant the yarn. The yarn is immersed in the mordant solution & simmered for another 1-2 hours over very very low heat. I like to leave it sit in the mordant solution overnight, just to be sure.
3. Making the dyebath. For each color used (and I sometimes used 2-3 on a single skein), I make a strong dyebath by simmering the plant material for 1-2 hours over very low heat. The exception to this is indigo - making an indigo vat using the yeast method takes 48 hours.
4. Dyeing the yarns. For the single color yarns, this means immersing them in the dyebath and simmering them, again, over very low heat for 1-2 hours or until you get the depth of color you want. For multiple colors, I carefully poured the different dye extracts over the yarn before heating it. Some of the yarns are overdyed (the greens & purples mostly), so after dyeing them for the first time I repeated the process again, minus the mordanting.

walnut dyebath

So each skein probably took me several days at least. I'm very happy with how this first batch turned out! I just started listing them over at my etsy shop today, and I'll continue listing them in small batches all this week.

Natural Dye Results

What else have I been up to? Well, there was the Yarn Party this past weekend, which was awesome! The weekend before that, I had a spin-off with Steph, Molly, and Carissa, and I made a trip out to Digging Dog Farm to play with the sheep and buy lots of organic local wool. They're humane-certified, too - I'm so happy to have found them! We visited in the midst of lambing, so there were tons of darling, fuzzy little lambs toddling around. And of course, I somehow managed to forget my camera for every single one of those events. *shrug* Oh, well. I might be going out to Digging Dog Farm again soon, so I'll try to remember to take pictures next time!


Gen said...

The natural dye looks fantastic.

Alpaca Granny said...

Thanks for sharing the natural dye process with us.
So time consuming!!!!

Carrie @ Between Hitching Posts said...

Your yarns are beautiful! I have played a little with natural dyes but haven't gotten the rich color that you got. I am curious to know what you used as dye matter. Please share.

julianna said...

Thanks for posting this tutorial on natural dyeing. Really pretty colours and photos :)