Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dyeing more yarn (Kool-Aid and mordanting).

Last week I did some more experimenting with dyeing yarn. Mostly I wanted to test out some of the other Kool-Aid flavors I had bought a while back to see what colors I ended up with. I made a few tiny skeins from scrap yarn to test so I wouldn't be wasting good yarn if something went wrong. :)

This was my first attempt at different colors within the same skein. I basically put the skein (in loop form, not wrapped up as below) on a piece of plastic wrap and poured some different colors in stripes on the loop. I used Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Orange Kool-Aid. As you can see, the colors kind of pooled up and blended in spots and made a greenish or yellowish tint. Then I took it off the plastic wrap and put it in a container in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Obviously I didn't plan this out or do it properly. The colors didn't set very well, but I think the result is still pretty. :) I'm definitely going to try dyeing self-striping yarn sometime.

I used two packs of Lemon on this little bit of very strange yarn. One pack was a very pale yellow, but adding more made it this nice shade. I couldn't see myself ever using this yarn for anything, but after I dyed it I realized it would make perfect curly blond doll hair. :)

For this bit of bulky yarn, I used Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade...two packs, I think? I also added a bit of grape, trying to darken it up a bit. Which didn't work. But there are nice subtle purple-ish parts now (though I don't think you can see them in the photos).

This was my only "real" Kool-Aid dyeing project of the day. Remember this white yarn that became this bright green yarn? I decided to overdye it because I would probably never knit anything in that shade of green.

So I mixed up some Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and Grape, and a few drops of blue food coloring, and this is what I ended up with.

No, I didn't mean for it to be this inconsistent and variegated, but I actually really love it. It's a dark green color with bits of teal and light green and purple tones. I will definitely use this color of yarn. :)

I also finally got a start on natural dyeing. With natural dyeing, most people mordant yarn before they actually use it. The mordant helps the color from the plant material stick to the yarn better. The book I'm using says that you get the best results if you've mordanted the yarn a week before you dye it. So I went ahead and did a mordant on three yarns, so they'll be ready to dye whenever I am (that last bit sounds weird when you think about it too much :).

This is the most recent Corriedale that I cleaned and hand carded. I'm planning on dyeing it with fennel, so the book recommended using iron as a mordant, since it helps bring out the green more. The mordant actually turned the yarn this light tan, so it looks like it's already dyed though of course it's not. :)

I used alum to mordant about 100 yards of this purchased yarn.

I also mordanted this Hobby Lobby: I Love This Wool! Naturals in alum. I'm not sure what I'll use to dye these two. I've been saving zinnia blooms from the garden, but apparently most people have a hard time getting anything other than brown from zinnias. They're so bright and colorful you wouldn't think that, huh?

Kool-Aid dyeing is so easy that this natural dyeing thing seems really intimidating to me now. I used the burners on my dad's grill so I could do this outside (I bought an electric hotplate to use, but with two huge pots it made more sense this time to just use the grill). The alum and iron mordants are technically naturally occurring substances, but they still put off odors when you're boiling them...especially the iron. And it's still not good to pour them out on the ground without diluting them. I decided to reuse my mordant baths, so my dad helped me save the water when we rinsed the yarn along with what was left in the pots, and we stored it in plastic buckets to use again next time.

Most of the dyeing herbs I planted in the garden this year didn't make it. We do have a bit of fennel that I'm hoping to use. My indigo never did much (it definitely never got to the point where it was big enough to bloom!), only two of my dyer's chamomile made it to the garden and they've since died, and the hopi red dye amaranth got eaten to bits by some horrible little worms. My hollyhock is the only thing that, so far, has thrived, though they currently do have some bug holes in the leaves. The black hollyhocks won't bloom until next year, though, so they're not doing me any good right now!

So I'm resting all my hopes on the wild plants that are native to my area. And most of them can't be used until late summer or fall, so I'm still waiting. There's tons of sumac, and I'm saving my first ever spindle spun yarn for that. I'm also planning on dyeing with pokeberries and maybe black walnut hulls. We'll see!

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. wow, thats so cool. I really hope one day you sale some of this in your shop. Because its super neat and I don't have time to learn right now. O_o Next year I am starting a raised garden and I'm super excited about growing a few things. I tried two things in pots and they are doing okay...


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