Natural Dyes

I previously posted that I had gotten started with spinning fibers into my own yarns (link). Since that last post, I have spun all sorts of fiber, including Merino, Angora, alpaca, Icelandic, and Corriedale. Of course, the going is relatively slow, since I am stuck with my drop spindle until I have the money (and space!) for a spinning wheel, but I’ve found the hobby to be cathartic and relaxing.

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Another aspect of making my own yarn that I’ve discovered is dyeing them. I love the look and the process of using natural dyes, from scouring the yarn, mordanting, creating the dye bath, and ultimately, dyeing the fiber. I’ve explored a lot of different organic sources of colors, including red cabbage, paprika, berries, cochineal, madder, and others.

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At first, I was having issues where the colors weren’t attaching properly to the fiber, resulting in faded, muted colors. While those were pretty as well, I wanted vibrant colors, like the ones that the Vikings would have had in the 8th and 9th century (historical reenactment nerdism!). I had a EUREKA moment today though, and found out that I had not been washing the fibers properly, meaning that there were still some oils left on the fiber. This meant that the dyes were attaching themselves to the oil instead of the yarn, and hence the faded colors.

There are still so many different colors that I want to try, such as these beautiful royal purples, obtained from log wood bark…

Bright yellows and oranges from the coreopsis flower…

And these bright blues from black beans.

While some people may think that plants can only produce greens or browns, in reality, there are so many vibrant pigments waiting to be discovered through experimentation. Even changing up what kind of mordant you use, whether it be potassium alum or tin powder can make significant changes in the colors that you get! I will be doing a lot more experiments in the future, so expect more pictures šŸ™‚

Signing off,
Marie

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