Baronial Dye Day

October 4, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Dyeing, Fiber Arts | Leave a comment

Yarn hanging to dry after being dyedWe had a baronial dye day yesterday, which was a great deal of fun. Five women went to the house of Mistress Nest. We went for a walk to collect local dyeing matter, including birch bark, black walnuts (both of which had been collected previously by Nest and my husband), sheep mullein, Queen Anne’s lace, and goldenrod. Nest dug up her madder bed as well. In the category of “not local dyestuffs, but lots of fun to play with” Nest had some cochineal and I brought indigo.

We dyed wool yarns, most of which had been handspun, though some of it was machine spun. We got some very nice colors! The indigo was a bit tempermental, perhaps because we were, in the interests of time, using a modern chemical-based reduction method. Once it got going, however, we had some great results, including a deep navy blue and a light baby blue as the bath began to exhaust. In between we overdyed just about everything with indigo to see what would happen and got some lovely greens, teals, and purples.

The cochineal dyed gorgeous deep reds, and the madder made some nice salmons. Nest’s water is somewhat iron-heavy. The birch bark should have given us a rose color, which was the result when we did this a few years ago, but it was a total failure. It may have been a different species of birch? The goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace both produced fine yellows. The sheep mullein was incredibly ugly. We were expecting a fairly nice grey based on past experience, but we think we didn’t have enough nickel to add to the dye bath.

The black walnut hulls (the green part around the shell) gave a light brown, but the shells themselves produced a lovely chocolate brown. Unfortunately, the browns aren’t in the picture.

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