Dyeing Wool with Plants
Learning something new I decided to try Natural dyeing. I dusted off my Rocky Mountain Dye Plants book, downloaded "Picture This" plant app and started strolling around the ranch. I wanted to try 4-5 plants that were easily found and grow well every year. I decided on Golden Current, Kosha, Alfalfa, and 2 types of Thistle. I setup a table and electric burners outside the studio to try and keep the studio cooler and the "stink" outside. The first day was all about "brewing" the plants. I cooked most in big pots of water and let sit over night. The next day I reviewed the brews. The Alfalfa and Kosha didn't make the cut. 1st was the smell of the Alfalfa fermenting was just to much for me, plus from what I was seeing the color was going to be a really light yellow. The Kosha didn't smell as bad but color was again really light. The Golden Current seemed to be the darkest, even though it didn't smell great I decided to dive in and try dyeing some yarns.
I decide against using any mordants. Just citric acid and vinegar in the dye and rinse baths. Keeping my ph at the desired 4.5-5 level. I was able to dye about 12 skeins of my wool yarn with about 2 1/2 lbs of Golden Current leaves and stems. The color came out to be a nice fawn beige color.
Picture shows the yarn before and after dyeing.
Next was the thistle. I used to different types both resulted in similar colors. Very pale yellow / tans.
It is always fun to try something new and I always love learning. What I did learn from this was I can use a lot of different things that grow around the ranch to dye with, it takes much more plant material then you would think and the smell of brewing is AWFUL... So needless to say I think I will stick with commercial dyes and leave the natural dyeing for special occasions...
The 12 skeins of Golden Current yarns will be available at the Fiber Market hosted by Stix on September 11th as my colorway for that event.