Saturday, 27 February 2010

More Natural dyeing

I have been trying out some more natural dye extracts. I do like the gentle, somtimes subdued shades obtain with natural dyes but the results are not predictable as with synthetic dyes and that frustrates me somewhat. The time taken to get results is much longer too and I'm not sure how I feel about using them. I have enjoyed my experimentation though.
The first photograph shows shades obtained using 'Teal' which is an unknown formula and I am pleased with the range. The orriginal colour is on the left, then modified with, citric acid, soda ash, a paler shade of the orriginal and on the right the pale shade modified with iron.

This picture shows skeins, top to bottom, dyed with rhubarb root, the exhaust of the rhubarb dye and fustic. Fustic gave a very bright yellow. The dye comes from the heartwood of the dyer's mulberry, a large tropical tree from America.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Natural Dyes

Members of The Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers are taking part in a natural dye workshop this month. I am taking part, as I have been thinking for some time that I should know more about this subject. I have amassed a stash of chemicals for such a project over the years, as periodically I decide to work with natural dyes.
I have been nervous about their use and somewhat disheartened years ago when a spinner/natural dyer asked me to weave with some of her yarns. They were not very light fast and so the idea of natural dyes was rejected.
My main inspiration for starting to take time to use natural dye extracts, at this time is, my friend and fellow member of the Bedfordshire Guild, Jenny Dean. In the recent past she has dyed skeins of silk for me to weave into scarves and her knowledge on the subject is vast. She is a great support and adviser to me on this adventure. Thank you Jenny.
I have used three extracts so far, madder, Red Lac and Golden Doc, with the idea that the handspun yarn dyed with these could be used in a knitted item - but for whom? I cannot wear wool and I'm sure my dear hubby won't want anything in pink.
The skeins in the picture from left to right, Blue faced Leicester fleece and wool roving, type unknown, have been dyed with 5% madder, Golden dock, Red Lac and were previously mordanted with alum.
The process of bringing the mordant bath to the boil and simmering the dye bath seems to have changed and improved the yarn. It is a great deal more open and fluffy than the undyed. When I have spun more I must take a photograph to compare!

I have been busy.
The above skeins are spun with Merino roving, the colours blended with the Beds Guild WSD new drum carder. I have been practising with it so I can show other new guild members how to use it most efficiently. The small skein was spun straight from the batt of blended fibre and I have more to spin. The larger skein is a fancy yarn created by introducing slubs of the individual colours to one bobbin of the 2ply yarn.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Trials of the drum carder

Well, where has the time gone again?
The Bedfordshire Guild of WSD bought a Louet drum carder last year and I am trialling it so I can instruct other members to use it efficiently. I love colour blending and spinning with colourful fibres to produce individual yarns. First of all I rainbow dyed some silk fibre to spin and then decided as most member work in wool, I would have a go at carding several shades of Merino together to see the results. There has been little waste of fibre but, apart from the silk, I have not spun the Merino into a yarn.
Above are the resulting Merino batts. I'm not sure about the lime green!