a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...

she likes: making kites, dancing in the rain, adventures, little-while friends, letters, whole-leaf tea, crayons, bare feet, jumping in rivers/streams/creeks/waterfalls, language, catching the clock as it changes numbers, sleepovers, trains (big or small), cuddling & waking up before the sun rises, among other random things.

oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

prepared to dye


I started the process with Lion Brand Yarn Organic Cotton, which I chose for many many reasons I explained pretty thoroughly in my last post.

I chose just a standard non-dyed non-bleached classic cotton color.

Then I started my concoctions. According to the awesome book on botanical dyes and home dyeing I've been reading, there are basically two parts to dyeing. First, there is making a vibrantly colorful dye bath. And second, equally important as the first, is making that color stick to your fabric of choice. Sometimes a color will seem to jump right on to your cloth or yarn or thread; sometimes it looks beautiful as a dye but the color stays in the liquid. Luckily, as the book explains, you can add a catalyst to the mix, also known as a mordant (from the latin root "to bite") which helps bind the color to the fibers of the fabric.

There are infinite mordants out there, and it's not really an exact science, so adding random stuff to your mix might make your color stick better. A rusty nail will bring out greens & help them bind. Soy milk or egg whites might do the trick with other colors. Salt and lemon juice, even urine, these can all be useful mordants depending on the ingredients in your color stew and the type of fabric you want to dye.

I knew that tea serves double duty. It's a known mordant and it stains brown, which was one of the colors I wanted. So I used that as the mordant for my first mixture. My brown concoction included chai tea, spent coffee grounds and used recycled paper coffee filters. I added hot water & let it all brew.

 I put the cotton yarn in & mixed it in to make sure it was covered evenly.
Then it was time to let time & gravity do most of the work.

For the second mix, I decided to use lemon juice as a mordant. My yellow concoction included lemon juice, rhubarb leaves & stems, marigold flowers, yellow onion skins and turmeric.

 Amazingly, as I added hot water, the red color from the rhubarb bled out into yellow liquid,
leaving white chunks of rhubarb in its place.

I added the yarn to my beautiful homebrew...

And set them out in the sun on the back porch to let solar power do the work.

India says that depending on fabric and dye, you may want to leave your concoction brewing for anywhere from several days up to multiple years. (Apparently in old England they used to throw wool sweaters in peat bogs for years on end to soften them & give them color.) The important thing is to get the fabric the color you want, and then that's it. You take it out. 

I know I am generally impatient, but I only left the yarn in there a few hours and it had already turned beautiful shades of brown and yellow, so I decided to take it out before it got too saturated or bright.

 The brown turned out the perfect shade for a monkey!

 And the yellow was way more vibrant than I was expecting!!

Next they need to dry. You are not supposed to ring them out to prevent damage, but can spin them around to get out extra moisture and then hang them to dry in the shade.

 I decided to hang them on trees in a shady spot of our side yard.

Look how beautiful they are!!

I am so proud of myself for accomplishing this endeavor and even more proud of how well it turned out! I can't wait to see what it looks like dry and to start knitting!!!

1 comment:

felicia Samin said...

creative, interesting, inspiring :D