Monday, September 12, 2011

experimenting with plant-dyeing wool

 After having been to the Sheep and Wool Festival, Sylvia and I decided to use some bits of wool roving for a project, but first we wanted to color the roving with plants from out garden and yard.  We picked marigolds, elderberries, red onions, and goldenrod.

marigold petals

onion skins

goldenrod flowers and stems


 We prepared each plant in it's own pot and set it to simmering on the stove with a couple cups of water.  Since we are not dyeing this for something that will be worn and washed, I didn't worry too much about a mordant and just added a glug of vinegar to each pot towards the end.  After simmering for half an hour, I turned the heat off and let the plant bits steep for a while.  Sylvia was feeling impatient, so we scooped the plants out with a slotted spoon and added a bit of ice to cool the dye baths.  Sylvia gently added the wool, and pressed it under the dye being careful not to agitate it too much.  We didn't want our wool to felt.
We brought it back to a gentle simmer and then turned it back off, letting the wool soak and cool for an hour or so.
Sylvia prepared the next part of our craft while she waited (more on that tomorrow).

We lay the wool bits out to dry in the sun.  The one in the front is dyed with onion peel, the left one is elderberry, the far back one is the goldenrod, and the one on the right is dyed with marigold petals.  There's also a small length of wool yarn that we soaked half in the goldenrod dye bath and half in the elderberry.

Sylvia is very pleased with the way these colors came out.  (And I plan on soaking that soft bamboo/silk fabric that they are drying on in the rest of the dye baths, mixed together, to see what will happen.)

I've used kool-aid and food-coloring before with the girls to dye wool fleece and yarn, but for our first go at plant-dyeing wool, I couldn't be happier with the results. So satisfying.

1 comment:

  1. Fun! We haven't done plant dyeing in a few years. Should do again. And you have elderberry bushes too? Sweet!


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