Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Natural Dyeing, etc., etc.....

I have been wanting to play around with natural dyeing for quite awhile. Since I have always been inspired by nature in just about everything I do, the idea of color from plants has intrigued me. I studied herbal medicine for quite a few years, formally for one full year, and when we studied the various dye plants, I never thought at the time, I'd ever be using the knowledge.

I hope to do more experiments and keep a journal of what I do.

I have a few great books I have been reading for awhile. My favorite is called Wild Color by Jenny Dean. The other book I have, which is very good too, but is a bit older, is called Ingigo, Madder and Marigold by Trudy Van Stralen.

Another intesteresting thing about natural dyeing is all the folklore that goes along with it going back many generations. Also everyone has various opinions about it when you talk to other fiber people. Some insist that none of the mordants are safe inside, while some say alum is ok. It takes quite a bit of reading to factor out myth from real science.!

My first experiment was using Brazilwood. Brazilwood is supposed to give pinks, crimsons and pinks on premordanted yarn. I premordanted in the yarn using alum and cream of tarter, both considered fairly safe for indoor use. I wasn't really sure what I was doing, but I figured since many dyed this way for years and years without recipes, I would be fine!

The color I got was more of a peach. Even with the added cream of tarter, which I thought would bring out more of red color, it didn't happen.... I would like to repeat this with some of the other mordants after I do more research on them. Please click on the photo to look at it bigger. More blogger problems so I am using flickr !
Natural Dye Brazilwood

It is beautiful but more subtle than I expected.....

Second, I used logwood extract. I was talking to someone a few days earlier who told me it was impossible to purple with logwood unless one used copper mordant. Well I used the same alum and cream of tartar mordant and I ended up with a gorgeous purple. It was much deeper at first and I was super excited about, but then quite a bit rinsed out. Still it is a beautiful color. The only thing is the yarn seems a bit "sticky" to me which I was told could happen with the added cream of tarter. On the other hand, I have never used this yarn before to dye. It is the laceweight yarn from knitpicks that I had around... I am going to repeat this with some worsted weight at some point.

Isn't it pretty? Again, plese click on the photo to get a better look! THANKS!
Natural Dye Log wood Extract

Other news and photos coming soon including new fall colorways, cool India socks from a friend in Maine and information about a cool new yarn store coming soon......



At 6:03 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

The colors are nice!

Update Internet Explorer and you won't have any blogger upload issues.

That is what I did.

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The colors are pretty! They look like they have a nice color gradation. (Or is that just the way my monitor reads the skeins??)

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Gina House said...

Wow, Lis! Those yarns are great! Will have to check out those books you mentioned...pretty interesting. What a pretty pink that turned out to be!

At 2:19 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Beautiful colors :) I really need to try to make some time for the natural dye experiments!

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

They are very pretty. Very subtle. I like the purple, of course!

At 9:24 AM, Blogger LavenderSheep said...

Oak Galls are another natural mordant that can be used indoors (they have tanic acid). As for color with natural dyes it really depends on the ph. It's been awhile since I did some natural dyeing but it was something like acidic is more yellow and basic is more pink, or the other way around. Which means that you can get different colors depending on what soil the plants grew in or what you mix with the dye. It is worth getting some litmus paper if you want to be somewhat scientific about it.

At 1:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, just found you through a google search. I've been dabbling with natural dyeing all summe and I just tried brazilwood. I dyed fleece and blanket and at first I got a rich pinky red. Then I put washing soda in the exhaust bath and the same colour went purple - yes purple as it dried on my Aga. Weird or what? Can't find any explanation. There are pics on my blog if you want to have a look. Also pics in my natural dyeing photo album.
PS Loved the way your brazilwood and logwood turned out though.


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