Natural Dyes: Our Results

Today we surveyed the results of our recent project and divided our skeins among our members. In recent months we have experimented with indigo, weld, osage orange, cochineal, and walnuts. Here is what we have.

  • Weld mordanted with soda ash to adjust the pH and boiled (top, left)
  • Osage orange – we found that pH matters (bottom, left)
  • Osage orange overdyed with indigo (top, second from left)
  • Weld overdyed with indigo (top, third from left)
  • Indigo overdyed with walnuts (top, fourth from left)
  • Indigo dipped three or four times for two minutes (top, fifth from left)
  • Indigo dipped once for two minutes (right end)
  • Light indigo overdyed in cochineal afterbath (bottom, right)
  • Cochineal mordanted with cream of tartar to adjust the Ph dipped for ten minutes (bottom, second from right)
  • Cochineal mordanted with cream of tartar to adjust the Ph dipped for one hour (on reel)
  • Cochineal overdyed with black walnuts (lower row, center)
  • Indigo overdyed with cochineal (bottom, second from left)

We also put together a goodie basket to be sold at the raffle for the Conference of Northern Califiornia Handweavers (CNCH) conference in 2020. Here is what we have so far.

A lovely day with much accomplished!

A Blue Sunday

We started our natural dye project in earnest. This will give us colored wool to use in the tapestry project we have started. This month we activated our indigo pot. We have one that we store in a covered pot so as not to waste any of our indigo, We bring the pot out several times a year. Normally we do this outside in the summer. This helps bring the temperature of the pot to an appropriate level by using some sunlight and allows us to do the entire process outdoors. We are dyeing carefully weighed wool skeins that we will continue to use in upcoming months to over-dye with other colors to get a number of colors to use in our tapestries. Some have already been dyed another color and we will overdye them with indigo blue.

The indigo bath must achieve the right pH and the right temperature in order to successfully produce color. We heat it if we need to and add commercial dye remover until we achieve the appropriate pH. We must be careful not to introduce oxygen into the pot which, amazingly, looks like its green, not blue.

dipping a yarn skein into an indigo dye bath

When the yarn is removed from the pot, it looks green. But as it gets oxygen from the air it starts turning blue . It’s magic!

But the yarn that had already been dyed yellow turns green!

four skeins of blue and green yarn drying on the fence

This is just the beginning! More colors to come.

 

May 21, 2017, Meeting

On this warm day we met to once again experiment with our indigo pot. There were seven of us: Phyllis, Sandy, Sharolene, Ann, Anne, Natalie, and Laura.

indigo dyed garments hanging on the fence

 

 

Ann’s shawl on the left was originally bright pink until it was dipped into the indigo pot. And her shirt on the right was bound into pleats with rubber bands at the neck and the hem for a decorative resist when in went into the pot.

Natalie, one of our new members, is also learning to spin on a wheel that has a history and is in need of some tweaking. Several of us helped her determine that there was a bit of a wobble when the wheel went round but we think she can make an easy fix.

old spinning wheelShe was also able to experiment with a simple resist pattern dipped into the indigo pot.

a cloth decorated with areas of white on a blue backgroundLaura was our guest who has been fascinated to learn more about indigo. She changed some items in her wardrobe from white to rich indigo blue.

three tops dyed with indigoWe experimented with immersing items in the dyepot for a longer period of time versus repeated dips to see if there was a color difference. There did not appear to be but we will see if the color fades less in the one we left in the pot longer.

We also discussed ways to connect with others like Natalie and Laura who might like to share in our adventures with spinning, dyeing, and weaving. A very nice day!

 

January 2017 Meeting

We had our usual indigo dye pot and a cochineal dye pot as well. (Cochineal comes from a small beetle that lives on cactus pads!) We are also making kumihimo lanyards for the Conference of California Handweavers (CNCH) meeting in 2018. Here are some photos of some of our efforts. Of course, Phyllis’s dog Flicka had to take a look too.

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