Sunday, April 12, 2009

First dye attempt - yellow onion on wool roving

Well, it's still drying but I feel much less nervous about dyeing now that I've tried it once! I've been putting off the buckthorn-berry trial until I could either a) use the campstove out on our back patio or b) at least open the windows on the house. It's finally warm enough this weekend to do that, but then I chickened out and decided to go with the definitely-non-toxic onion skins first (especially since I had a dyebath all made up from dying Easter eggs!)

Not much exciting to tell; I soaked the wool overnight in alum (for mordant) and cream of tartar (for color uptake), and then added it to the room-temperature onion-skin dye this morning. Slowly raised the temperature to near boiling (took about 45 minutes), then turned off the stove and let it soak for another couple of hours.

The dyebath was neutral, as far as I can tell from my red-cabbage pH paper. I dyed 27 g (~0.9 oz) of wool that had been pre-mordanted in 3g alum, 1g cream of tartar. I didn't weigh the onion skins before making the dyebath, but after I strained them out at the end they weighed 39g. The dyebath was still VERY dark after dying the wool and I think I could have dyed quite a bit more, but I didn't have any ready (and wasn't sure how much of this color I actually want!)

Funny, I'm so excited about this I almost really like the color, although if you'd ask me before today I'd say it's one of the ugliest colors known to man. I still think it's pretty ugly, this will either become yarn that is only accents on a hat or something, or maybe it can be spun in small amounts with other yarn just to provide a touch of color without making anyone look at the strong full-color version of it...!

Here's the roving (set in the sun only long enough for photos!) You can see that it felted some compared with the undyed bit, even though I tried very hard not to agitate it or change temperature quickly. I'm hoping that will quickly card out.
Yellow Onion wool

The wool is now drying out on the front deck, in the shade. Next weekend, I hope to finally try to buckthorn berries! Unfortunately, I was looking through my dyebooks again and finally did the math - Rita Buchanan's book mentioned as a general rule of thumb, that for rich colors 2 gallons of berries should be used for 1 pound of wool. I'd like to do an ounce of wool (1/16 pound), so that would need 2 cups of berries... not sure I've stashed that many away in the fridge. Maybe it's time for another walk down to the park to see if there are any berries left (with a scissors, this time, pulling those all off by hand was NOT fun, it was like grabbing gooey cold roofing tar).

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