Friday, September 12, 2014

Dyeing Yarn with Blueberries

Another one of my natural dye experiments was dyeing yarn with blueberries.  I started with a skein of 100% wool yarn and pre-mordanted the fiber in Alum.  Mordant helps the yarn to accept color better, and Alum tends to provide the brightest and clearest colors, compared to using copper or iron as mordants.

I made the dye bath using a 1:1 ratio of berries to fiber.  In this case, the blueberries had been left behind in the fridge at work and had started to get wrinkly and soft.  Instead of throwing them in the compost, I took them home for dyeing.  To get the maximum amount of color from the berries, I added a small amount of water to the pot and crushed the berries with a potato masher.  (I did this without the water at first and ended up squirting berry juice everywhere...)
After keeping just below a simmer for an hour, I strained out the berry pieces and added the wet fiber.  The dye bath looked like a gorgeous pink/purple, and I was really hoping that would transfer to the fibers.  When the fiber was rinsed and dryed, it ended up looking more like a blue-ish lavender.  It is still a lovely color, but definitely shows how unpredictable natural dyeing can be.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dyeing Yarn with Zinnias

As I mentioned in a previous post, my interest in natural dyeing has been renewed.  I have kind of gone crazy with dyeing yarn (which you will see in my next five... or ten... blog posts) starting with zinnia flowers from the garden.

I started out by weighing the flowers and getting a 2:1 ratio of flowers to fiber.  My skeins are 3.5 oz, and I also dyed a small amount of wool for spinning, so I used about 8 oz of zinnias.  Then  I simmered the flowers in my dye pot for about an hour to extract the color, and strained out the flower pieces so it doesn't tangle with the yarn.

The yarn is 100% wool, pre-mordanted in alum so it will accept the color better and be more light-fast.  Before adding the wool to the dye bath, I soaked it in water so it will dye more evenly.  After an hour or so in the hot dye bath, I removed the yarn, let it cool, and rinsed out the remaining dye.  The zinnia dye turned out to be a gorgeous buttery yellow, much more subdued than the turmeric.