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.

1 comment:

  1. To my inexperienced eye, these just look simply beautiful. I just love looking at the wonderful colours you produce.

    Lesley Xx