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T O P I C    R E V I E W
joankyles Posted - 05/15/2008 : 07:37:12 AM
Do any of you natural dye your own wool, I am thinking of using plant dyes for some of my wool but can't seem to be getting the dye into the wool, Where am I going wrong? Ta Joan
8   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
beedee Posted - 08/11/2008 : 11:16:07 PM
Cochineal can be particularly satisfying and give beautiful shades of rose/red depending on the mordant, alum being the most common. Madder gives a more "rusty" red. One can get some interesting color variations if one uses an old cast iron pot or kettle to simmer various colors.
My funniest and most fun dyebath was from prickly pear fruit juice. If I had washed the fleece (churro) before submerging it into the undiluted juice to ferment for about a week, I would have gotten a deep magenta-purple, and possibly resistent to sun-fading. As it was, I got a dark pink-magenta. I had spun the yarn "in-the-grease" and was too impatient to pre-wash it before fermenting it in the juice. I also regretted not reserving some of the juice -- it had the most tempting aroma -- notwithstanding an occasional whiff of "lanolin"!
How did I process the prickly-pear fruit? It was a prickly process. Really, no sweat. I picked the fruit with tongs. I rolled the fruit, still using the tongs, in a bed of sand and grit (chicken grit). I then mashed them with a hand potato masher and ran the juice through a sieve. That was it!
Kade1301 Posted - 05/17/2008 : 08:39:09 AM
After our spinning guild's weekend meeting on natural dyeing I decided that it was not for me: As KathyR said, generally you need to mordant the wool (which might be the reason why you can't get any dye into the wool), then you need the right dye plants (and most of the interesting colours - blue, red (with the exception of madder) - come from tropical plants. With local plants we only got camoufalage colours: yellow, light greens, (gold) brown) and finally you need lots of experience and good record-keeping to be reasonably sure of your results. I felt natural dyeing is an art in its own right, and I simply prefer spinning. So I work with naturally coloured fibre or chemical dyes. If you want to get serious about natural dyeing, I think Jenny Dean's book "Wild Color" is pretty good.

Happy dyeing! Klara
Chemcats Posted - 05/17/2008 : 03:46:48 AM
As I remember, they used sodium bicarb, so that would be a weak caustic. Darn! I am going to have to google (and google, and google) to find that info.

eepster Posted - 05/16/2008 : 12:32:11 PM
Originally posted by Chemcats

I read some place that if you change the pH with baking soda the resulting color will be a bit more red... Have you tried that? Is that garbage info?

It wouldn't surprise me, but wouldn't the alkalinity cause the wool to become brittle?

.." "
Chemcats Posted - 05/16/2008 : 05:11:05 AM
Eepster! That roving was Out Of This World! I want to roll around in it and rub my face with it. yum, yum, yum!

I read some place that if you change the pH with baking soda the resulting color will be a bit more red... Have you tried that? Is that garbage info?

KathyR Posted - 05/15/2008 : 3:58:44 PM
Most dyes from plant material will need a mordant (such as alum) to fix the colour. Search online for more information or go to your library for books containing this info. Most juices are considered to be stains rather than dyes and will probably fade over time with washing and exposure to sunlight.


If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
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eepster Posted - 05/15/2008 : 3:32:09 PM
I've had good results dying with juices, vegetables and spices. When I have a juice that's a pretty color I just and vinegar and wool plus water to cover and zap it in the microwave. My best results have been from blueberry juice, raspberry juice, turmeric, grape juice (different brands make different colors,) beets and tea.

Here are some photos of samples

Here I used powdered turmeric on roving which I highly advise against b/c the powder particles got into the open fiber and were very hard remove after. However the color was glorious, so if you have some thing easy to wash (I've also used turmeric on playsilks without difficulties) it's the richest colors I've gotten from the kitchen.

Things I've been disappointed by are anything frozen, red cabbage, and carrots.

.." "
Sharyn Posted - 05/15/2008 : 07:39:28 AM
Hi Ta Joan,
I just discovered a natural dyeing group on Ravelry - lots of great information and lots of people willing to answer questions. The group name is Plants to Dye For.

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