Plum Pine 3: Let the dyefastness testing begin!

Unbelievably, the plum pine is still fruiting, and I am keen to dye enough to be able to do some wash and light-fastness tests in the year before it fruits next time.  So I harvested again, picking up fallen ripe fruit from the ground until I filled the bags I had with me.  A man in white overalls who seemed to be working nearby was gripped to see me doing this and asked me all about what I was doing and why.  He was fully supportive of ‘making use of our natural resources’–as he put it–!

Early signs are that my silk threads dyed without alum will not be washfast. My mending has changed colour in only a couple of washes, and seems to be Ph sensitive, with pink without alum noticeably paler and purple with alum (the contrasting outermost ring on the right) turning blue in a mildly alkaline wash.


Only someone accustomed to dyeing with eucalypts, which are fast on wool and silk with no mordant, would think unmordanted yarns were a good beginning place.  So, I’ve had a mordant bath on the hob.  I did not have loads of anything much ready to mordant and dye except Bendigo Woollen Mills alpaca rich, so 200g of that hit the alum and cream of tartar bath along with smaller quantities of other yarns.

After removing the seeds, I had 2650g of fruit.  I was a bit gobsmacked by the quantity!  Never one to shy away from a challenge,   I put my fruit in a pot of rainwater with a cup of vinegar and simmered for an hour.  Then, I entered some handspun wool, some commercial alpaca-wool blend and some silk thread and silk/cotton 70/30 thread, all mordanted in alum and cream of tartar.  The colour takeup on the silk was dramatic and almost immediate!  I simmered for another hour and then left overnight.  The colour change overnight was again worth the wait.


Meanwhile, I’ve set up further washfastness and lightfastness tests…

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Filed under Dye Plants, Fibre preparation, Natural dyeing

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