2 April 2015

dyeing experiments

Natural dye workshop with strawberries #naturaldyeing

Some years ago I was a member of the Natural Dye Group at the Plant Craft Cottage (at Melbourne's Botanic Gardens). I think I talked about it here on the blog although I can't find it. Since then I've done a smattering of natural dyeing at home, plus a whole shipload of acid dyeing, Kool Aid dyeing (thank you American dealers friends) and food colouring dyeing. My most popular post still is this one - it continues to get hundreds of hits from people keen to learn how to dye yarn safely with small people milling around.

Anyway then I went back to work full time and blah blah blah everything fell to pot. Except my bank balance, so you know, swings and roundabouts.

Well this year I kind of made the resolution that this will be my year of doing more stuff I love. Including dyeing and dancing and learning new things (more of that next post. I have POTTERY to show you, people. POTTERY).

So, I took a natural dye class a couple of months ago to refresh myself and give me a kickstart back into it.

Strawberry natural dyeing. Clockwise from top: copper iron aluminium solar #naturaldyeing
Natural dye class with I Am Alchemy.

Since then I've been going crazy. Mostly solar dyeing with the occasional foray into the kitchen for stovetop dyeing. Solar dyeing is the perfect methodology for dyeing if you work full time. (I sound like an advertisement. Dyeing for busy mothers and career women!) You whack a few things into a jar on the weekend and leave it in the garden for a few weeks. Easy.

Solar dyeing coming along nicely one week later. Tumeric, ivy, raspberry, tea. Not shown (in steel pot) - strawberry.
Tumeric, ivy, raspberry, tea. Mordanted with vinegar.

Solar dyeing results: tumeric, raspberry, ivy, red cabbage, strawberry.
Tumeric, raspberry, ivy, red cabbage, strawberry.

Blueberry, raspberry, red cabbage #solardyeing #naturaldyes #naturaldyeing #dyeing #yarn
Blueberry, raspberry, red cabbage.

Solar dyeing: red cabbage, tea, raspberry.
Red cabbage, tea, raspberry.

Solar dyeing: blueberry, logwood, madder.
Blueberry, logwood, madder. Mordanted with vinegar.

Red cabbage dyed wool yarn: left = solar dyed, right = stovetop dyed. Both mordanted with vinegar.
Red cabbage. Left solar dyed, right stove top. Both mordanted with vinegar.

Madder, logwood, blueberry.
Madder, logwood, blueberry.

Tending three new dyepots this morning before work
This week's experiments: Black bean, logwood exhaust, carrot tops. All pre-mordanted with alum

Three skeins of hand dyed sock yarn. Nailed the variegated soft pink I was after.
Kool Aid dyeing! Fingering weight yarn which is on its way to becoming a cardigan for me after the woman who expressed interest in me dyeing it for her decided $25 per skein is waaay too expensive. Ahem, take a look at etsy, ma'am, you'll see many hand dyed skeins for $32 per a skein

My collection of naturally dyed yarns grows
The beginnings of a beautiful naturally dyed collection, hooray!.

What to do with lots of little 50g balls of dyed yarn? Dig out your loom and get weaving of course.


Stomper Girl said...

I think you'll look fabulous in a soft pink kool-aid cardi, so it's probably just as well.

Zoya said...

Gorgeous colours. I hope you'll get time to learn, make and share - it is always inspiring to see what you made.

Frances said...

I have had a grand time reading this post, looking at the beautiful photographs of your dying process during and results after mixing up varieties of natural bits with vinegar or alum.

Beautiful! The link to your earlier kool aid post was also a delight. I definitely need a yard or a back garden. I live in an apartment with no access to the great NYC outdoors that I can call my own.

Yearning for room to mess about with these colorways, I thank you for this post.


Jo Windmill said...

Wow! Totally inspiring!! Love the red cabbage solar dyed the best.

Fiona Claire said...

Beautiful pictures! What a civilised art.

pandchintz said...

The colours are so pretty and it looks like such an easy method - and lovely to look at too while they're working magic.

kgirlknits said...

such beautiful results, I love the softness of natural dyes.

Interested to know the colourfastness of some of these - have you tested them yet? Particularly the red cabbage?

Belinda said...

These look SO beautiful, Susan! How great is solar dyeing! Do you mind if I share some of your photos? B x

Suse said...


Shammickite said...

I've had a go at Kool Aid dyeing, and it worked out really well! Very bright colours. However, I'm wondering what Kool Aid does to the insides if you drink it, seeing what it does to skeins of wool!
Love the natural colours.
But will the colours wash out?

Shammickite said...

You may like to look at this blog
this lady does some dyeing with plants too.... and a nice tutorial about dyeing with indigo.