Friday, 7 August 2015

Plant dyed wool...

...super results from my plant dyeing adventures.
Himalayan Balsam flowers make a lime green....
and Rosebay Willow herb flowers give a gorgeous smokey mauve tone to Blue Faced Leicester wool that's been blended with Merino...making an extra super soft wool

Plant dyeing is such fun and if you are careful...weighing ingredients and logging the can get the same colours time after time.

Always boil up flowers first and leave to steep overnight...use the liquid from your plant 'tea' to dye your wool.
A top tip to get a better colour take up....* always pre mordant your fibre for at least an hour before dyeing, I use alum and cream of tartar*

Drain your fibre and add to your dye bath (a large saucepan that will not be used for food) making sure it's covered with the dye liquid.
Add alum, copper or iron by the teaspoon, depending on what colour result you would like to achieve.

....there's lots of great books out there about using minerals as mordants.....

Generally, I find that copper gives a bright green, iron, either a red or green depending on what the dye bath contains. 
Alum is the most neural of these minerals and will usually give a 'true' colour

**** this is only a very rough guide, I suggest having fun and try them all. Use the same quantity of dye stuff in 3 different pans, same fibre choice and enjoy the different results from each***

Well, there you are, a little bit about the joys of plant dyeing

It does feel great getting out there and gathering berries, leaves, nettles or widely grown weeds!

Just a little word of caution...always leave enough plant for the wildlife and for its own recreation. Wear gloves, as some may be an irritant to the skin. Always have permission from the land owner. Use containers that will not be used for food use.

Then have some fun

Himalayan Balsam with copper
Rosebay Willow herb with iron

Using the dye bath a 2nd time achieves paler results...the greenhouse works as a great place to dry wool on a showery day...