Saturday, 29 August 2015

Plant dyeing

The first time I tried plant dyeing, the result was somehow disappointing. During Easter, I tried to dye the same shirt a deeper red, with red beets. Didn't work that either.

But third time's the charm, so when I sat with large amounts of strawberries, I decided to try again. And having read more about dyeing, this time I used wool, since linen is one of the harder materials to dye.

One of my mistakes from last time was that I let the fabric lie in a cold dyebath. Now I let the yarn simmer lightly for an hour. Since this was berry dye, I used salt as a fixative.

When the strawberry dye worked out fine, I couldn't stop there. I gathered some fireweed and bought alum to use as a fixative. I didn't think the dye bath would smell very good, but it filled the house with the scent of rhubarb jam. A few people were disappointed when they realised what I was cooking wasn't edible. And the colour turned out an amazing neon yellow!

Look who finally caved and got instagram.
I am sewimpossible, for those who wanna stalk.

I did a lot of research, got a dye vat and biked out to the mountains to gather plants to use.

I  found a tiny friend sitting on the porch of our cabin.
Gah I love ferns.
Yellow:  ferns. Beige: birch bark.

So I used the ferns, and... wasn't this supposed to be reddish brown? And the birch bark ended up as a pale beige, maybe because I only used bark from dead trees. But the colour you end up with depends on the mordant used, so maybe I should have used an iron mordant to get the darker colours I'd seen online.

Dandelion roots.

I was a bit tired of yellow, so I did more research, focusing on plants I could find in Norway, that were easy to find and most importantly, don't yield yellow dye!

Pale yellow: spinach. Pale brownish beige: dandelion roots.

I got spinach from the store and ruthlessly dug up dandelion roots from the garden. The colours I expected were green and brown, but no. So I'm making an iron mordant with a few rusty nails in vinegar, and when it's finished brewing in a week or two, I'm trying again. 

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