Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dye - Black Walnut Husks

Finally, a foolproof dyestuff that really was proof against me!

Collected about a dozen walnuts from the neighbor's yard (our young black walnut didn't like this spring's weather and dropped all its nuts on the ground before the end of June). Husked them and laid out most of the bits to dry, but saved one walnut's worth (93g fresh) and dropped the bits in ~1 gallon of water (which turned dark yellow instantly).

24 hours later, added 1/2 c white vinegar (recommended in J.N. Liles' book).

48 hours after dyepot started, simmered 1 hour and strained. Added 6g buff-colored wool (previously dyed with either mulberry or buckthorn) and 6g alum-mordanted undyed wool to the warm dyebath.

72 hours after adding wool, removed and rinsed it. Can't tell which wool was predyed, but both bits have a very noticeable green tinge!

Added 25g more of the predyed wool, tied in various places with sock yarn, to see if I could get patterns of light/dark dye. Simmered for 2 hours, left to soak 24 more hours, then rinsed and set out to dry. Looks like there are definitely dark/light spots, but it looks more like the dyestuff had settled to the bottom of the pot; the parts touching the bottom are very dark brown, while parts floating just below the surface are light. Guess that teaches me a lesson about remembering to stir the pot once I'm done simmering, not just let it sit there untouched for 24 hours!

Still no pictures, haven't worked out where to host my photos now that Flickr's complaining about reaching 200...

Dye - Curly Dock Leaves

Spent part of the weekend weeding, so while I was at it, I pulled all the curly dock roots and leaves into a pile to see what I could do with dye. I knew that sorrel root was supposed to give an orangey color, so it seemed worth grabbing its relative, curly dock (since I don't have any sorrel growing wild in the yard!)

I laid out the roots on newspaper in the garage to dye, since I knew I wouldn't get to them for a while. I chopped up the leaves into a 164-gram pile, added to 8 cups of sink water, and simmered for 60 minutes (never quite boiled). The water was still very pale, so I left the dyestuff to cool in the pot.

8 days later I got back to the dyepot, which had fermented (didn't smell nearly as nice anymore!) Added 3g of wool, 1/2 alum-mordanted but undyed, and 1/2 previously-died wool (buckthorn? mulberry? not sure which) that was a pale buff color.

Left to soak for 2 days at about 67 degrees, then turned the heat on to a simmer after adding more water (about 3/4 had evaporated). After simmering one hour, let the dyepot cool until the next night, then rinsed and dried the wool. Got a muddy yellow color.

(No pictures this post; Flickr tells me I'm at my limit for free photo hosting. Need to figure out where to move that won't impose a 200-picture limit...)

Dye - Mulberries

This one seemed like a sure win; mulberries stain our family's hands and feet for half the summer each year, and the stain takes days to wear off the skin.

I gathered about 2 cups of mulberries and soaked them in water to ferment for 3 weeks (took me a while to get back to them...) I did not add vinegar (we were out).

Fermented mulberries

After three weeks, I strained the quite fermented mixture and added it to a 1:4 vinegar:water dyepot, then added 129g alum-mordanted wool (from Smoky Mountain Fibers, like all my other wool samples so far) and slowly raised the temperature.

Mulberry extract

The dye extract was certainly a beautiful color, and my first peek at the wool looked really good!

Mulberry-dyed wool

After simmering for 1 hour, I removed the wool and dried thoroughly. My notes say I should have dried it without rinsing, then rinsed the wool several days later... but I think I forgot that step and rinsed it well. I also may have overheated the dyepot, I think it started boiling at one point. I read that if the pH goes above 7 it can produce a grayish color instead of pink, so maybe that contributed to the color, although I did add vinegar to the dyepot.

Mulberry-dyed wool

What a miserable color! The worst yet, and out of the dyestuff I'd had the highest hopes for... of course, if I was going to felt this and make miniature toys or something it would probably be perfect for some skin tones.