Tuesday, 25 August 2015

An interlude - a dyeing (experiment) project

It is that time of year again - the blackberries are out and I decided to go picking on a quiet Sunday. I have this absolutely beautiful yarn of a singles DK Wensleydale wool - I believe I have praised the qualities of Wensleydale wool before, but here it is - it is smooth, is lustrous and there is enough for a jumper (900g):

The plan was to dye two lots of 300g in solutions of berry dye, to get two different shades of a purple colour, and then dye the last 300g in the colour derived from leaves of the bramble plant. I picked a large volume of berries, and focused on snipping the fresh shoots from the plant. The yarn was prepared in an Alum (8%) and cream of tartar (7%) mordant - here it is soaking before it went into the dye bath:

Here the berries are being cooked to draw out the juice for the dye:

Here the leaves and shoots are soaking prior to being cooked up to get the most of the dye:

And what results did I get out of it? Well, I had a bit of a disaster with one of the dye baths. The colour was a bit insipid and I found a blog where someone suggested she had tried to change the PH of the dye-bath to change the colour by using washing soda, so I poured some in, and the colour changed so dramatically that I had to pour it out almost immediately to prevent the yarn from getting too dark a grey colour, and then poured some left-over fruit juice into that bath to re-gain the purple tones. I then also read on Jenny Dean's blog, Wild Colour, that one should not add washing soda to wools in warm water as it breaks down the fibre, so I had to rinse the wool in huge volumes of water to try to get it all out. I do hope it will be OK.

Anyway, in the end I have two tones of grey-purple, and the silk fabric I added has also taken the colour fairly well:

On other blogs I had seen that the leaves of brambles would dye wool a pale green. This would be a perfect complement to the purple, so I had high hopes for the leafy dye-bath. However the colour that came out of it was a bright yellow - at least on the wool fabric I dyed. The wool and mohair yarns also took the yellow, but is slightly paler. Unfortunately the photograph does not show how yellow it has all become.

I am now contemplating doing an indigo over-dye on the fabric, as the yellow is not good for making garments of, if I was to wear it myself:

Wool fabric, fine tightly spun mohair and wool yarn.

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