Jewel asked if I have ever used plants to dye my yarns. The answer to that is yes, I have used plants. And bugs. ;p
I've dyed some yarns, but usually I like to dye unspun fiber, whether it's with natural or chemical dyes. The reason for this is because home dyeing often results in somewhat irregular (splotchy) coloring across the fiber or fabric. Sometimes this is the look one is going for. Other times, an even distribution of color is wanted. By dying the fiber instead of the yarn, I can blend the color as much or as little as I wish (an advantage of spinning my own yarns).
Anyway, her question prompted me to pull out my box of natural dye experiments and share them with you. All of them are on raw wool, and all except one are from the same fleece. All were done as part of one of the Online Guild's natural dyeing workshops: "Medieval Dyeing" in May 2003, "Indigo Dyeing" in March 2004, and "Dyeing for Purple" in May 2005.
Sadly, all my notes for these experiments were lost when my old computer crashed. I did label the bags, so what I can tell you is taken from that. The information below each photo describes them from left to right.
Yarrow plant tops, copper mordant - this is actually a very pale yellow/green
Onion skins, alum mordant
Onion skins, chrome mordant
Daffodil flowers, no mordant
Dahlia flowers, alum mordant, ammonia afterbath
Osage Orange inner bark, no mordant
Indigo (powdered leaves), no mordant
Madder roots, alum mordant
Brazilwood (heartwood chips), no mordant
Brazilwood, ammonia dip
Brazilwood exhaust over madder (it's hard to tell there are 3 samples there)
Cochineal bugs, alum & cream of tartar mordant
Cochineal bugs, chrome mordant
Cochineal bugs, alum & cream of tartar mordant, ammonia dip
Cochineal bugs, exhaust over madder
Logwood (heartwood chips), alum mordant
Logwood exhaust over madder (I had a lot of madder dyed fiber)
Alkanet roots, with acetone on alum & cream of tartar mordant
Alkanet exhaust, with acetone on alum & cream of tartar mordant
Not labeled! I couldn't believe that I didn't label this. And it frustrates me all over again that I lost so much information in my computer disaster. I really like the color however.
So far I've just been a dabbler in the world of natural dyeing. If you want to know more about it, do visit Helen's blog. She is a fellow Online Guild member, and helped tutor some of the workshops.
Eventually, after the entire fleece is dyed, I will spin all of these and make something out of them. I'm not sure about the what or when of that project obviously, considering that some of these have been keeping since 2003! Be assured that I will definitely blog about it when the time comes, assuming that you're all still around by then! :)
Posted 25 Sept. 2008 at http://leighsfiberjournal.blogspot.com