Posts tagged natural dyeing
Dyeing with Black Walnuts

I've found that black walnuts are an excellent go-to dye. I can always count on them. They are easily foraged for, don't require any mordant and will always give me some shade of brown, from dark chocolate to caramel. The skeins shown above were dyed the same day I did the marigold and red cabbage.

The dark skeins are a merino/silk blend while the lighter skeins are an alpaca/wool blend. The lighter ones were unmordanted, a bit of an afterthought I threw in the pot later. As you can see the one didn't take up the color as evenly as the other. I love these variegated results I've been getting and am looking forward to seeing how it knits up this winter.

PS: Thank you all for following me over to this new space and taking the time to comment! I'm having some trouble getting Bloglovin' to recognize my RSS so I apologize to those of you who follow that way. (Any tips on how to fix it?) As I said earlier, I can only carve out short periods of time for "blog work." Have a great weekend!

Dyeing with Avocado + Dandelions

Last summer, I ventured into the world of natural dyeing. I started off with cheaper yarn and easier dyes like onion skins, black walnuts, beet greens and parsley. After the summer faded, I knew I was hooked on this medium and started planning for the next season. I’ve been stock piling yarn and planting things specifically for dyeing.

I like the idea of focusing on sourcing my dye material locally, using what I’ve grown or foraged for around here*, but occasionally kitchen scraps are too precious to pass up. And after only getting browns and yellows, I’m itching to get some other colors this year. So when avocados (which usually yield a pink hue) came into the house over the last few months, I made sure I saved the skins and pits (storing them in a bag in the freezer.) The pink-from-avocado always stumped me (and most other people) and it wasn’t until I cracked open the pits and saw some orange-y inside did I see how it could happen.

Since I was taking the time and energy to do up the avocado dye, I figured I’d try some dandelions as well. They are dotting the newly lush green lawn and (unsurprisingly) yield yellow. The whole time I was doing this dye job, I realized something about myself as a dyer: I don’t like measuring. I don’t like specifics or technicality. After last season, I told myself I should learn more of the ins-and-outs of how dyeing works, on a scientific level, like PH and reactions and mordant, etc. But I’d rather keep it all simple, intuitive and (surprising for me) a mystery. Some of you have asked if I will start selling hand dyed yarns and honestly, I would love to, especially if I can keep the process as it as it is now: simple, creative and fun. (And I might be looking for testers this year, to give me feedback on quality and whatnot!)

But here are some more specific notes if anyone comes across this post and is looking for a bit of guidance in their own dyeing. Both dyes were 50gm skeins of superwash merino with an alum and cream of tartar mordant. I used the broken pits and ripped up skins of 9 frozen-then-thawed avocados and a bowl full of fresh picked dandelions. I cut back on timing for everything so I might have ended up with richer colors.

*As this little passion grows, I hope to source my yarn and fiber more locally. Then perhaps take a stab at spinning my own yarn to dye. And maybe even raising fiber someday. (Oh, but that is quite the long-term goal…)