Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dyeing the natural way :-)

Last year, you may recall, I played around with indigo dye and got some fabulous results:

This year, I wanted to play around with madder and safflower.  I bought a few jars from Fabric Treasury on Etsy and ended up with enough dye to last me for a while.  I wasn't able to get the acidity right for the safflower to turn pink (based upon other blogs it will turn Barbie would be jealous PINK for linen and silk) but the left most yarn in the picture is from the yellow safflower.  It's really a lovely bright yellow.

The yarn I was using is all natural wool yarn. Since I wanted the bit of linen (not shown) I had to turn pink, I added madder to the dye pot and then reduced the acidity, and added another wool skien. All the fabric I used was soaked in alum and water before I dyed it. The middle yarn is the color I got from the safflower plus a bit of madder. It's a really nice peachy tangerine color in person. The last one is just pure madder and I redyed the linen in that as well. The linen came out a rather nice pale rose and will be made into sleeves to go with a brown linen/cotton kirtle. (I LOVE pink and brown together. I don't like brown on it's own but other warm colors on it really make the warm colors pop.)

Because the madder is a bit old and not freshly ground, I wasn't able to get a deep red. However, the orangey red I did get is a pretty solid color. I'm really happy with it. Now, to figure out some natural green dyes they would have used in the middle ages...

Some other tidbits I should mention - to the madder pot, I used just regular old tap water and smashed a calcium pill to get the chalk necessary for "hard" water. I think this really helped to get the best color I could.

I used an old large pot I found at the thrift store for $3 on sale. It's big enough to fit about four yards of a lightweight fabric in. As is, I had no issues with the 1 1/2 yard of linen and a skien of wool. 8

That's the safflower dye pot with a wool skien in it. I did try to get natural wool at the Maryland sheep and wool festival but they wanted $20 a skien. 0_o? So, Etsy it was and I easily found the five I did for $25 - much more reasonable! I don't want them hand spun on a spindle by a spinster! I just want basic undyed wool.

For the failed safflower to turn pink experiment, I used borax and vinegar.  I think I just made it too acidic, the test strips I had for the acid test only went up to 9 and I need to go to a pool store to get a PH reader that will go up to 11 or higher.  You are supposed to get it to 11 PH and then bring it back down to 6 to get a lovely pink.  I have more than enough that I can experiment some more!


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