Saturday, September 13, 2008

Natural Dyes

I started dyeing this week with some pine cones, gathered from the little pine woods that belongs to my mother. I gathered some brown ones and some green ones, simmered them up for half a day, let the pot cool, removed the pine cones, and put pre-mordanted wool in the pot.
The mordant was alum, but I seem to have lost my cream of tartar, so I left it out. The wool became stiff enough to teach me that cream of tartar is a good thing. The color is a warm brown, however, I should have strained the dye through some muslin because there is some pitch from the pine cones that adheared to the wool (you can see the darker brown spots on the wool).
On the way to the pine woods, I walked beneath a hickory tree that had already dropped a lot of nuts, so I gathered a bagful. I followed the same procedure as with the pine cones, only the dye was hardly present after one day, so I let the nuts, in their green husks, soak for three days. I might have had quicker results if I had chopped up the hulls, but I didn't want to make that much mess.
To make clean-up easier, I used an old enamel spaghetti cooker. It consists of two parts, the inner part is a strainer, so I could just lift it out of the pot and leave the dye bath in the pot.
This hickory dye was not as rich in color as I've had before. The picture shows it a little grayer than the actual color, perhaps because I took the photo when the wool was still wet. The picture shows hickory nuts in the hull and out of the hull on the dyed wool. (addition September15 - I put the wool back in the dye pot and let it sit for a couple days. It turned a much darker soft brown.)

My next project is walnut dyeing. I have an ice chest full of bottled walnut dye that I made last year. I've gathered some fresh walnuts so I can compare year-old walnut dye with fresh dye. If it continues to rain as it has all day today, I should get that project going tomorrow. I'm going to use the walnut dye as an overdye for some textured wools and maybe some plaids.


Sunnie said...

Hi Phyllis:

I really enjoyed this post about your natural dying!!! I've never tried anything but the regular wool dyes! : )
I'm enjoying your Blog and I'm hooking away too!!
Hugs to you...and Happy Hooking! Sunnie : )

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