I’ve let myself get sidetracked from other things as usual and I’m doing some natural dyeing. I got a stock pot from Argos for £10, which is a good size. It turns out natural dyeing requires patience. First you have to scour your materials to wash out any finish that might inhibit the take-up of the dye. Then it has to be mordanted (I used alum) so that the dye is fast. You can do a load and dry it ready to be used so it’s worth being prepared. Then you cook up your dyebath, usually for an hour. It has to cool before any wool goes in so as not to felt it. Finally you simmer your material for another hour. That’s the quick method. I haven’t tried cold dyeing yet where you leave the material in the dyebath for 24 hours. I’m also experimenting with 3 types of lichen I picked up on walks, which are sitting in a mixture of ammonia and water. They have to be shaken and opened to the air every day for about 3 months, which is decidedly smelly.
Anyway, here are some of my results so far.
The very strong colour is wool blanket and a fine knitted wool. The lace is cotton and hardly took the colour at all, nor did the cotton fabrics. The silks did quite well. A lot of people on the Internet have got a very pretty pink using avocado. This was simmered for an hour using both skins and pits. I think I’ll have another go with just pits and won’t bother with cottons.
As I have plenty of rosemary in the garden I had a go. This picture is labelled so you can see all the different materials I used. The result was a soft yellow.
Cow Parsley dyeing
It’s a bit late in the season but I picked some cow parsley to get this pale yellow. If I had more I think it would have been stronger.1.silk and merino; 2.merino prefelt; 3.silk chiffon; 4.silk dupion; 5.wool; 6.mohair.
Black Bean dyeing
Without indigo or woad blue can be achieved by using the soaking water from black beans. Interestingly, by far the strongest hue is on the silk velvet while usually the strongest colour is on the wool fabric. Here we have: 1.cotton scrim; 2.cotton lace; 3.silk; 4.silk thread; 5.silk dupion tie-dyed; 6.cotton; 7.wool blanket; 8.silk viscose velvet; 9.mohair; 10.merino prefelt; 11.knitted wool; 12.turban cotton; 13.muslin; 14.silk chiffon.
I’ve also dyed some green, but haven’t taken any pictures yet. I’m collecting onion skins to make more yellow, so no doubt there will be more posts.