Over a recent long weekend, I managed to do quite a lot of dyeing and some fibre processing. There was mordanting of cellulose fabrics with soybeans.
I finally decided to stop worrying about the fact that my walnuts (gathered from under trees at my workplace) were whole and having dried, I was not going to be able to separate husk from nut (where no rat had done this for me). I just soaked them whole and then dyed with them.
I clamped and dyed. This eucalyptus print + walnut bath made me happy! Here it is still wet (you can see it still clamped above if you look closely).
I flick carded Suffolk locks. Some had staining–see that yellow streak? I just decided I wasn’t prepared to waste indigo on vegetable matter and contaminate my vat. And the Suffolk is so felting resistant I thought it would be fine flicked first and dyed after 9and it was).
I used some of Tarla Elward’s wonderful Australian grown Indigo for the first time and used henna as the source of antioxidants, following Michel Garcia’s method.
I’d been concerned about how to grind up the block indigo but I had found a mortar and pestle since dye camp and put it to use. So much fun, Such a great weekend.
I am just delighted with the indigo colours on this wool, and even more delighted that I managed to revive my indigo vat, last used before dye camp a few months ago. Clearly, I learned something from the wonderful Jenai at dye camp. Indigo achievement unlocked! Blue socks one step closer.
I went out to help with the local organic food co-op recently and came home with walnuts from the local food forest produce swap, with the nuts soon ready for eating and the hulls ready for dyeing:
In the bucket, ready for their three week soak/fermentation:
Post soaking and ready for the heat:
With the application of heat, the dye bath grew darker still. So in went my remaining suffolk fleece. It was with deep relief that I assessed the (acceptable though not delectable) smell of the dye bath. It was a walnut dye bath that almost had me excommunicated from my Guild for cooking it up in the dye room when the Little Glory Gallery was open. Ahem!
Here is weld growing in the vegie patch:
One of my plants wilted and fell over for no obvious reason, so I cut it out and set it to dry. I wondered if something has nibbled on its roots from below ground. Some days later I went out and found that the rest of the plant had died. This time it is obvious that the main root has been chewed on or rotted away. Curious. I followed Jenny Dean’s instructions (more or less…) and due to lack of time, left the dye bath to sit for some days.
Mum saved me her purple fountain grass–a whole wheelbarrow load. I saw a post on Ravelry where a lovely green came from this plant just about when she was planning to cut hers back. This was exciting! For me, however–it gave only a fawn colour. Sadly!
Here is the walnut dye on the left and the fountain grass on the right. It is a little more yellow-brown in life, but nothing exciting. It went into the walnut exhaust.
I now have two shades of brown Suffolk and some weld-yellow crossbred fleece ready to join a future colour knitting project. May the rinsing begin!
When these walnut hulls came home from the Guild hall with me, who knows how long they had been stored? I can only give an educated guess to the time involved in separating them from the walnuts… or the year in which that might have happened. In the meantime, insects had become involved… so I put them in water and put a lid on and left them to steep in mid to late May 2014. As you may remember, I decided I should honour the effort involved in all that dye gathering and storage… and so over a month later, a dye vat emerged…
The stinkiness of which was unholy. It may become a legend in my Guild. But not in a good way! The dye that emerged was inky and impressive. I rather wish I had saved some to try using it as ink, but in all honesty I didn’t have that thought on the day… my nostrils said ‘begone!’. The dark brown skeins in the foreground are walnut.
And here is my sample card.
Interestingly, the walnut dyes, together with every dye I have tried on both hot and cold processed mordants so far, show cold processed alum as the most obviously effective mordant, with hot processed alum coming second. The cold processed sample is noticeably darker than all other samples. My eye cannot detect a difference between the hot and cold processed rhubarb leaf mordant samples. In this case, I expected that since I used an overwhelming quantity of rhubarb leaf, achieving a dye effect and not just a mordanting… that these samples would be a stronger shade of brown. I can’t detect a difference between the rhubarb leaf mordanted samples and the no mordant sample. So far, I have to concur (sadly) with Pia at Colour Cottage in finding that rhubarb leaf is not terribly effective as a mordant, at least in the ways I have applied and used it. I have enough mordanted yarn to continue experimenting for some time to come…